Procedure : 2018/2752(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0355/2018

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 11/09/2018 - 15
CRE 11/09/2018 - 15

Votes :

PV 12/09/2018 - 6.8

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0308/2018

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on autonomous weapon systems (2018/2752(RSP))

Norica Nicolai, Petras Auštrevičius, Urmas Paet, Jozo Radoš, Marietje Schaake on behalf of the ALDE Group

European Parliament resolution on autonomous weapon systems (2018/2752(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its study of 3 May 2013 on the ‘Human rights implications of the usage of drones and unmanned robots in warfare’,

–  having regard to its various positions, recommendations and resolutions calling for a ban on autonomous weapon systems, such as the mandate to start negotiations adopted in plenary on 13 March 2018 with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, its resolution of 13 December 2017 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2016 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(1), its recommendation to the Council of 7 July 2016 on the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly(2) and its resolution of 27 February 2014 on the use of armed drones(3),

–  having regard to the report of 9 April 2013 of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (UN A/HRC/23/47),

–  having regard to the EU statements on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) to the Group of Governmental Experts of the parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva, of 13-17 November 2017 and 9-13 April 2018,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee opinion of 31 May 2017 calling for a human-in-command approach to artificial intelligence and a ban on autonomous weapons,

–  having regard to US Department of Defence Directive 3000.09 of 21 November 2012 on Autonomy in Weapon Systems,

–  having regard to the open letter of July 2015 signed by over 3 000 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers and that of 21 August 2017 signed by 116 founders of leading robotics and artificial intelligence companies,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas an unknown number of countries, publicly funded industries and private industries are reportedly researching and developing lethal weapon systems with autonomous capabilities, ranging all the way from missiles capable of selective targeting to learning machines with cognitive skills to decide whom, when and where to fight;

B.  whereas lethal autonomous weapon systems have the potential to fundamentally change warfare by prompting an unprecedented and uncontrolled arms race;

C.  whereas the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems raises fundamental ethical and legal questions of human control, in particular with regard to critical decisions such as target selection and engagement;

D.  whereas the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems raises key questions about the applicability of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and European norms and values with regard to future military actions;

E.  whereas according to some experts, well-designed automated weapon systems used under effective human control can enhance adherence to principles of international humanitarian law;

F.  whereas in August 2017, 116 founders of leading international robotics and artificial intelligence companies sent an open letter to the UN calling on governments to ‘prevent an arms race in these weapons’ and ‘to avoid the destabilising effects of these technologies’;

G.  whereas the most significant advances in artificial intelligence and autonomous machines are being made by private firms with commercial motives; whereas even if agreement is reached on banning autonomous lethal weapon systems, the technology enabling autonomous weapons will be both pervasive and easily transferable;

H.  whereas autonomy and artificial intelligence are separate yet complementary technological dimensions;

I.  whereas any given autonomous weapon system could malfunction on account of badly written code or a cyber-attack perpetrated by an enemy state or a non-state actor;

1.  Stresses the imperative of establishing a common EU policy to prevent the emergence and subsequent potential proliferation of any autonomous lethal weapon system;

2.  Highlights its concern about the growing use of autonomous weapon systems by non-state actors, such as the so-called Islamic State group, through the combining of commercially available equipment; fears the uncontrolled use of artificially intelligent technology;

3.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), the Member States and the European Council to develop and adopt, as a matter of urgency and prior to the November 2018 meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, a common position on autonomous weapon systems that ensures human control over the critical functions during deployment, and to speak in relevant forums with one voice and act accordingly; calls, in this context, on the VP/HR, the Member States and the Council to share best practices and garner input from experts, academics and civil society;

4.  Urges the VP/HR, the Member States and the Council to work on the establishment of a new chapter within the framework of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, with a view to an international ban on autonomous weapon systems that are capable of diverging from the ways in which humans have programmed the critical function of selecting and engaging targets; stresses, moreover, the fundamental importance of preventing the research, development and production of any autonomous lethal weapon system lacking human control in critical functions such as target selection and engagement;

5.  Calls on the Member States to take responsibility for fulfilling their existing international legal and ethical obligations in the development and use of their weapons technology;

6.  Recalls its position of 13 March 2018 on the Regulation on the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, in particular paragraph 4 of Article 6 (eligible actions), and underlines its willingness to adopt a similar position in the context of the upcoming defence research programme, the defence industrial development programme and other relevant features of the post-2020 European Defence Fund;

7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the United Nations.



Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0494.


OJ C 101, 16.3.2018, p. 166.


OJ C 285, 29.8.2017, p. 110.

Last updated: 6 September 2018Legal notice