Keeping Control Human: Youth insights from the Vienna Conference on Autonomous Weapons

Stop Killer Robots
2 min readMay 16, 2024


by Jefferson Batesimah

Jefferson Batesimah, youth delegate, speaks at a side event during the ‘Humanity at the Crossroads’ Conference in Vienna, Austria | April 30, 2024

The Vienna Conference on Autonomous Weapons, dubbed “Humanity at the Crossroads,” addressed the urgent need to regulate deadly autonomous weapons systems. As a youth delegate, I gained valuable insights into this critical issue. Here’s a snapshot of what I learned:

Understanding the Big Picture

The conference shed light on the serious challenges posed by autonomous weapons. They could make conflicts worse, harm civilians, and disrupt efforts to keep peace worldwide.

Why Human Control Matters

A key lesson was the importance of humans staying in charge of decisions about using force. Letting machines make life-or-death choices raises big moral and legal questions. We need clear rules to make sure people are responsible and to stop these weapons from causing harm.

Talking Ethics

We spent time discussing what’s right and wrong when it comes to autonomous weapons. We talked about how to respect people’s dignity and protect them from these weapons’ dangers. We also thought about how using these weapons might change society in the long run and change our relationship with technology.

Challenges We Face

Even though many people agree on the need for rules, there are still big challenges ahead. Some powerful governments and tech companies control a lot of the conversation. It’s tough for other voices, like from everyday people and community groups, to be heard.

Youth Power

Young people like us played a big part in the conference. Our fresh ideas and energy showed how important it is to get everyone involved in the discussion to address autonomous weapons. We left feeling inspired and ready to push for change in our communities.

What Comes Next

The conference wasn’t just talk, it was a call to action. We agreed to work even harder to establish strong global rules for autonomous weapons. But it won’t happen overnight. We need to keep up the pressure and work together to make real change.

In sum, the Vienna Conference on Autonomous Weapons was a chance to learn, share ideas, and get ready for action. We learned how crucial it is to keep humans in control of decisions about life and death in warfare. As we move forward, let’s stay focused on making the world safer and fairer for everyone.



Stop Killer Robots

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