2023: Action in numbers

Stop Killer Robots
6 min readDec 21, 2023

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Stop Killer Robots staff and campaigners participating in a light projection action in New York City during the UN General Assembly in October 2023.

This year has been an eventful one for us at the campaign — from the successful adoption of the first-ever UN resolution on killer robots to an exhibition on digital dehumanisation to new resources from our research and monitoring team. Echoing the spirit of all the change we’ve seen this year, we thought we’d switch up the format of our end of year blog and recap the year in numbers.

Without further ado…

164

This is the number of states that voted in favour of the first-ever UN resolution on killer robots. The vote passed at the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security at the United Nations General Assembly on November 1, 2023. In the lead up to the vote we launched our #VoteAgainstTheMachine campaign to raise awareness of the vote and to increase pressure on states to support the resolution.

Historic results of the first ever resolution on autonomous weapons at the Committee on Disarmament and International Security at the UN General Assembly.

(Friday) 13(th)

Unlucky for some, but for us Friday, October 13 was an exciting day! It was the day we launched our Automated by Design exhibition on digital dehumanisation — the process by which humans are reduced to data, which is then used to make decisions or actions that can negatively affect them. Designed by Identity 2.0 with support from Sokka Gakkai International and Amnesty International, it brought together interactive and multimedia pieces that helped to explain the concept while positioning killer robots on the far end of this spectrum.

Identity 2.0’s Savena Surana (left) and Arda Awais (right) speaking at the opening of Automated by Design in New York City on 13 October 2023.
Automated by Design exhibition visitors and exhibition pieces.

25

The number of weapons included in Automated decision research (ADR)’s recently launched Weapons Monitor. The Weapons Monitor features examples of weapons systems, either already existing or announced as in development. Check it out if you want to keep up to date with who is developing autonomous weapons and where they’re being used. Shortly after going live, the Weapons Monitor was introduced to diplomats and civil society at a side event at the UN General Assembly in October 2023. At the side event, Automated Decision Research also presented another resource — their weekly news briefings, also launched this year, which track trends in autonomy in weapons along with updates on related technologies and policies.

Types of weapons included in Automated Decision Research’s Weapons Monitor.

42/102

42% is the amount by which signatures to our petition increased in 2023! Our joint petition with Amnesty International, calls on states to move toward the creation of new international law (a.k.a. a treaty) on autonomous weapons. People in over 102 countries went to our website to show their support (special shout out to Pakistan🇵🇰, Sweden 🇸🇪, Nigeria🇳🇬, the UK🇬🇧 and the US 🇺🇸 , the countries from which the majority of our signatures came this year). Haven’t added your name as yet? Take action now.

Even the Beckhams think you should sign our petition.

3

The number of locations in New York City where we projected our #VoteAgainstTheMachine animation during the UN General Assembly. The animation’s message called on states to take action at the UN while raising public awareness of killer robots and the need for them to be regulated. A group of staff, campaigners and friends of the campaign participated in the action and were colour coordinated — wearing bright pink beanies, which you can purchase on our Stop Killer Robots shop!

Video showing highlights from the Stop Killer Robots light projection action.
Stop Killer Robots staff and campaigners participating in light projection action in New York City to raise awareness of need for new international law on killer robots.

4

The number of regional positions on killer robots that were formalised this year.

🇨🇷 Belén Communiqué: In February, following a two-day regional conference in San José, Costa Rica on the social and humanitarian impacts of autonomous weapons, 33 Latin American and Caribbean states adopted the Belén Communiqué. The communiqué calls for “the urgent negotiation of an internationally legally binding treaty on autonomy in weapons”.

🌎 Iberamerican Communiqué: Only a few weeks later, at the 28th Iberoamerican summit in the Dominican Republic, 22 Heads of State and Government including Andorra, Portugal, and Spain issued a special communiqué, echoing the calls of the Belén Communiqué, calling for negotiations of a legally binding instrument on autonomous weapons systems.

🇧🇿🇨🇷🇸🇻🇬🇹🇭🇳🇳🇮🇵🇦 SICA Statement: Following this, SICA (Central American Integration System) Member States, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, adopted a statement calling for urgent negotiations on an international legal instrument with prohibitions and regulations regarding autonomy in weapons systems.

🇹🇹 CARICOM Declaration: In early September, just weeks ahead of the start of the UN General Assembly, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) states adopted a declaration on autonomous weapons. The Declaration was adopted at the CARICOM Conference: The Human Impacts of Autonomous Weapons in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The Declaration demonstrated strong support for the creation of new international law in the lead up to the historic vote on the first-ever UN resolution on autonomous weapons.

Costa Rican Ambassador to the United Nations Maritza Chan and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Christian Guillermet-Fernandez present newly adopted Belén Communiqué. (left)Honourable Renuka Sagramsingh-Social, Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago and Ambassador Che A. Phillip, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations (right)

252/72

252 is the number of civil society organisations that are now part of our global coalition and 72 is the number of countries represented by these member organisations — that’s a 17% increase from 2022! Our campaign continues to grow and with it so do our collective efforts to create new international law on autonomous weapons. Together, we look forward to continuing to grow our coalition and work toward keeping the use of force in human control.

5

The number of blogs penned by our Youth Network on killer robots and related issues for Disarmament Week (24–30 October 2023). The Network connects young people from around the world, facilitates community and collaboration, and provides accessible resources and opportunities for all youth to secure a future without automated killing. If you are under 30 and interested in joining, fill out this form!

38

The number of countries in which Stop Killer Robots Member Organizations undertook outreach projects, funded through the small grants programme. The funding focused on building political engagement to demonstrate support for the launch of treaty negotiations and strengthening advocacy efforts on autonomous weapons in advance of the 2023 UN General Assembly. This funding allowed staff to realise exciting projects and outreach like an exhibition on digital dehumanisation in Paraguay and advocacy work that led UK parliamentarians to set up a Special Committee to address autonomous weapons.

Map detailing the countries that received funding through the Stop Killer Robots small grants programme in 2023.

2024 mood

We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished this year — we couldn’t have done it without the support of dedicated staff, campaigners and members of the public who engaged with our issue. We’re hoping that the new year brings as many exciting developments and opportunities to grow our community as we work toward creating new international law on killer robots. Until then, we’ll continue to celebrate these wins while we prepare for the year ahead.

2024 mood

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Stop Killer Robots

With growing digital dehumanisation, the Stop Killer Robots campaign works to ensure human control in the use of force. www.stopkillerrobots.org