SNP MP calls for ban on 'killer robots' and more transparency over drones

An SNP MP has called for a ban on “killer robots” and more transparency over the use of drones.

An SNP MP has called for a ban on “killer robots” and more transparency over the use of drones.
An SNP MP has called for a ban on “killer robots” and more transparency over the use of drones.

Alyn Smith is demanding an overhaul of the UK's arms exports controls and for strengthened oversight and transparency around remote warfare.

The SNP's shadow foreign affairs spokesperson has accused the UK Government of "burying its head in the sand" over the issue and will today bring a motion calling for a regulatory framework for the use of drones that bans the development, production and use of lethal autonomous weapons.

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It would also create a statutory requirement on the UK Government to consult with the devolved administrations on its arms export policy.

The Stirling MP said: "The Tory government's approach to arms export controls and the use of drones is one that has been shamefully shrouded in secrecy and with little or no oversight.

“In the SNP's submission to the Integrated Review, we called for devolved governments and civil society to be given a proper role and greater input into decision making, rather than it being centralised in Whitehall.

"From arms exports to drone use, the UK Government has clearly shown itself unwilling or unable to create transparent and accountable frameworks around policies which, more than many others, are matters of life and death.

“The age of remote warfare is here, with all the moral and legal questions it brings. Instead of addressing these head on, the UK Government continues to stick its head in the sand and hide behind ‘no comment’ policies on the use of these weapons.

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“The UK Government is asleep at the wheel while the character of international warfare is transformed before us.

“If Boris Johnson is serious about ‘Global Britain’ being an influential player on the international stage, he must leap at the opportunity to be at the forefront of negotiations to create the legal framework that is being created around their use.”

The UK Government has come under repeated criticism over arms exports, with the Court of Appeal earlier ruling that its actions in selling arms to Saudi Arabia were unlawful.

Now Mr Smith is calling for the UK to work with the United Nations and "work towards an international treaty which would ban the development, production and use of lethal autonomous weapons”.

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.

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