Managing RAS: The Need for New Norms and Arms Control

March 17th 2020 - 13:44

New paper out now! To read, click here.

This paper is a collaboration with Clingendael authors Hugo Klijn and Maaike Okano-Heijmanswith contributions from Bianca Torossian. 

Against a backdrop of geopolitical tensions and rapid technological developments, the debate on governing autonomous weapons is gaining momentum – both in the Netherlands as well as in other countries. Discussions are complicated, however, because of wide variations in the positions of countries, compounded by a tendency of some politicians and non-governmental organizations to frame the discussion in alarmist terms. The regulation of controversial categories of robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) requires new approaches and new instruments.

Building on theories of transnational governance, this paper highlights so-called trusted communities as a potentially valuable instrument to engage relevant stakeholders, particularly those from the private sector. Apart from continuing its efforts in formal frameworks – such as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), where Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) are discussed – the Netherlands government may consider reaching out to businesses and relevant experts at home as well as in like-minded states through trusted communities.

Such networks have the ability to bring together key actors to provide input for developing principles and norms for further regulation and export control regimes that are based on mutual trust and respect.

Download the paper here.

Photo credit: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

Bianca Torossian is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS. Her studies at The University of Sydney, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Leiden University (The Hague), earned her a Bachelor degree in political science, political economy and sociology, and a Master degree in political science and international organization. For her Master Thesis, Bianca analyzed how the institutional legitimacy of the European Union was impacted by Brexit, and hopes later to reopen this line of research and explore how the nationalistic tendencies of states effect the social legitimacy of multilateral institutions. At HCSS, Bianca primarily focusses on security and diplomacy. A specific area of interest is the field of technology and AI in defense contexts, which ties into a HCSS research project that critically analyzes the challenges and opportunities posed by robotic and autonomous systems in the military. She contributes to a range projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.