The Netherlands must ban use of ‘killer robots’: Belhaj
The next Cabinet needs to sign an international treaty to ban fully automatic weapon systems that determine for themselves their target, D66 member of Parliament Salima Belhaj said.
“This is not a movie or science fiction. I want to prevent us from entering an unprecedented war”, Belhaj said, according to RTL Nieuws.
Many weapon systems still require human control, but various countries and weapon manufacturers are already experimenting with fully automated weapon systems. This includes, for example, ‘kamikaze drones’ that attack in swarms or rockets that can fly for hundreds of kilometers and independently select their target.
“The expectation is that we will gradually enter an era of automated warfare. Or as it also known as: algorithm against algorithm”, Danny Pronk from the Clingendael Institute said.
“I think there should be a ban on killer robots”, Belhaj said. “Only this way can prevent their arrival and wars whose consequences are unforeseeable.” Belhaj has submitted an initiative memorandum and wants the Tweede Kamer to denounce fully automated weapon systems.
Pronk said he does not believe countries who refuse to participate in an automated arms race are at a disadvantage in the event of a war. “Whether there is a human behind the controls or not, the effect is still achieved. With the only difference that in the former there is accountability.”
The Ministry of Defense stated that the Dutch military does not have fully automated systems where humans are “out of the loop”.
The Netherlands has been using partially automated weapon systems for over 20 years, such as the Goalkeeper in the Navy and the Patriot Systems on the ground. “The systems are turned on in the event of a threat but can be turned off at any time if desired", a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said.
A few dozen countries are already debating over a ban on fully automated weapon systems, yet is unclear in which direction major players such as the United States, China and Russia will go. “This makes a ban via a treaty with these countries difficult, if not impossible at the time”, Pronk said.