UN General Assembly adopts resolution on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

The resolution confirmed that the UN Charter and international humanitarian law apply to lethal autonomous weapons systems.

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On 22 December 2023, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution 78/241 on lethal autonomous weapons systems, expressing concern about the possible negative consequences and impact of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) on global security and regional and international stability, and affirming that international law, in particular the UN Charter, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law, applies to autonomous weapons systems (AWS).

The UNGA highlights the need for the international community to address the challenges and concerns raised by AWS, in particular through the Group of Governmental Experts in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). It further requests the UN Secretary-General to seek the views of member states and observer states on LAWS and on ways to address challenges and concerns they raise from humanitarian, legal, security, technological, and ethical perspectives, and on the role of humans in the use of force. It also requests the Secretary-General to invite the views of international and regional organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, civil society, and the scientific community and industry.

The Secretary-General is expected to submit a substantive report on these issues to the UNGA at its 79th session.

The resolution was adopted with a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 4 against (Belarus, India, Mali, and Russian Federation). At the same time, China, North Korea, Israel and eight other nations abstained.