India congratulates you on assuming the chair of the GGE on LAWS. The fact that we are meeting in these challenging times when the whole world is grappling with the COVID pandemic, showcases your resolve and the need to further progress our discussions on LAWS. We also thank Ambassador Karklins for all his efforts to advance our work.
2. Even though the hybrid meetings are not an ideal setting for the kind of task at hand, and limit the participation in many ways, we are heartened by the participation of experts from capitals, as well as representatives from the civil society, industry, academia and non-governmental organisations. We assure you of our fullest support and cooperation as you continue to guide our collective work to reach a common understanding.
3. We reiterate our support to the eleven guiding principles adopted during the annual meeting of the HCPs to the CCW in November 2019. It reaffirms India’s stance that the work of the GGE on LAWS should continue to be guided by the principles of International Humanitarian Law and human responsibility must be retained across the entire life cycle of the weapon systems.
4. India, like other fellow countries, is trying to leverage artificial intelligence in the field of agriculture, health care, education, innovation, governance etc. and we are witnessing an increasing use of Artificial Intelligence based machines and applications in our daily lives. These emerging technologies, however, raise legal, technical and ethical issues in both civilian and military domains thereby necessitating greater deliberations and discussions on the subject. Caution must, therefore, be exercised to ensure that while formulating potential policy measures, emerging technologies in the field of LAWS should not be stigmatized and the progress on peaceful use of technology should not get hampered.
5. Owing to the constructive engagement of all States, the GGE was able to undertake substantive discussions in 2019 building on the work of past several years. We, therefore, remain convinced that the CCW is the most appropriate forum to address these emerging issues on LAWS. Further, we believe that addressing LAWS within the framework of the CCW strengthens the Convention and underlines that the CCW is capable of responding meaningfully to the evolving technological contours applicable to armed conflict in the 21st century.
6. In our view, the GGE has progressed the discussions on the right trajectory by flagging the relevant issues of characterization of the systems, human-machine interface, military application of related technologies and possible options for addressing the humanitarian and international security challenges. The broad contours of discussion scheduled during this GGE shall ensure that the complex nuances involved in LAWS are deliberated in a pragmatic manner and not prejudiced by exaggerated notions of technological capabilities.
7. There are a number of proposals on the manner in which we should deal with LAWS including some policy proposals. While there may be merit in the proposals calling for a legally-binding instrument, we are of the view that it is premature, at this stage of the deliberations, to prejudge the outcome of our future deliberations on the nature of such a legally-binding instrument, by calling for prohibitions on LAWS. It is also not the right time to call for declaration of a moratorium on further development or use of LAWS. India, without prejudice to a negotiated outcome to be reached by consensus, as also indicated in the Agenda Item 5(e), is therefore, not in a position to support any position which prejudges the outcome of the ongoing deliberations including in the form of a prohibition or moratorium on further development or use of LAWS. India stands ready to actively participate in the deliberations of the GGE and work with fellow High Contracting Parties to reach a common understanding based on consensus.
8. We support the continued deliberations on LAWS on the basis of an agreed mandate within the framework of the CCW. We look forward to fruitful and progressive discussions during this meeting of the GGE.
I thank you, Mr. Chairperson.