The Arms Control & Disarmament Centre (ACDC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), in collaboration with Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO), organized a seminar on “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS): A Regional Perspective” on Tuesday. The seminar was well attended with the participation of members of the diplomatic community, academia, experts from think tanks, officials from relevant department representatives of civil society, and university students. In his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI Amb. Sohail Mahmood said that the transformative potential of new and emerging technologies like robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning was affecting every facet of human civilization. These technologies had now spread to over 100 countries, increasing from 60 a decade ago. States could utilize these emerging technologies for the development of LAWS. The proliferation of these technologies had raised the profile of the phenomenon and required deeper reflection. The dual-use nature of these technologies had also led to massive commercial use and raised concerns that non-state actors could use these technologies for malicious purposes. In May 2013, Pakistan became the first country to call for a ban on fully autonomous weapons. It had repeatedly advocated for a ban on autonomous weapons and was spearheading the efforts internationally to have a legally binding instrument. Director ACDC-ISSI, Malik Qasim Mustafa said that increasing weaponisation of AI was generating insecurity and fear and presented complex security challenges for states and added that the development of these weapons had raised fundamental questions on their regulation, autonomy, accountability and state responsibility and their likely impact on human protection instruments like international human rights and Instrumental Humanitarian Law. Chief Executive, SPADO, Raza Shah Khan, noted that the “Global Movement to Ban Killer Robots” had been active for more than a decade and comprised 150 non-governmental organizations from 60 countries working to retain meaningful human control over the use of force by banning the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. They aimed to get a consensus on an international legally binding instrument on LAWS. There was already support of 90 states as well as the Secretary General of the UN in favour of a legally binding instrument on LAWS; however, several major countries were resisting a consensus-based approach. He appreciated Pakistan’s leading role, regionally and globally, on supporting a legally binding instrument on LAWS. Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, in a special video message, stated that Pakistan’s UN Mission in Geneva had been working to promote a ban on LAWS for years. Since 2014, there have been conversations at the international level on this issue. He said that states remain divided into two camps-those who supported legally binding instruments; and those that opposed it. He reaffirmed that Pakistan’s efforts in this regard would continue. Former Minister of Law Justice & Parliamentary Affairs & Human Rights, Ahmer Bilal Soofi said that in the case of LAWS, it was a grey area as to when a state could respond and what would constitute an attack on the country, and whether it could respond under Article 51 of the UN Charter. He presented several proposals including the need to regulate the private sector, as well as government-to-government enterprises and emphasized the need to create customary norms against autonomous weapons. Counsellor, UN Mission of State of Palestine in Geneva, Nada Tarbush, shared the “State of Palestine’s Position.” She appreciated how Pakistan had shaped the international debate on LAWS. She outlined the Palestinian perspective regarding LAWs and said that two categories should be prohibited – one that targets humans, and one that does not have humans in the loop. She emphasized the need for “meaningful human control” on weapons comprised of a system of reliability, predictability, understanding and explanability, and tracebility. She highlighted the Israeli use of LAWS against Palestinians. Underscoring that these weapons may become available to non-state actors, she stressed that developing a legally binding instrument was an urgent matter. Government Relations Manager, Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Geneva, Ousman Noor highlighted the primary issue with LAWS that machines were replacing humans and any decision for the use of force would be made through data. This was problematic from a moral, legal and security point of view. He expressed concern that these weapons would proliferate beyond the battlefield. There were issues from International Humanitarian Law (IHL) perspective as well since these weapons could not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. He appreciated the role of Pakistan in the fight to ban LAWS and expressed confidence in the enormous potential for Pakistan to lead the way in the fight. Advisor SPD, Maj. General Ausaf Ali (R), said that AI was leading the third revolution in warfare. Major military powers were indulging in AI-led arms racing in the land, air, sea, cyber and space domains. He talked about the transformative potential of LAWS on nuclear capabilities. He also dilated on LAWS in the South Asian context, including India acquiring Predator drones as well as S-400 systems that have autonomy built in their system.