22/01/2022 Des drones ukrainiens tueurs autonomes

La guerre entre la Russie et l’Ukraine entrera-t-elle dans l’histoire comme le premier conflit armé faisant intervenir des «robots tueurs». Kiev aurait développé des drones capables de trouver leurs cibles de façon autonome, selon Newscientist n° 3412 du 12 nov. p 13. Cet article rapporte les propos de l’un des chefs de l’armée ukrainienne, le lieutenant-colonel Yaroslav Honchar, spécialiste en intelligence aérienne (espionnage aérien)

Dans un entretien accordé le 13 octobre à l’agence ukrainienne d’information indépendante Unian, celui-ci indique en effet qu’une équipe constituée d’un millier de passionnés travaille sur ce projet de drones tueurs autonomes depuis 2014, et que les appareils sont désormais prêts à entrer en action. Kiev aurait déjà développé des drones capables de trouver leurs cibles de façon autonome.

Jusqu’ici, l’Ukraine a fait preuve d’une grande dextérité dans le déploiement de drones innovants. Qu’il s’agisse des frappes opérées par de petits appareils multirotors munis de de bombes antitank miniatures, ou de l’attaque d’envergure menée par des drones aériens et marins contre une base navale russe en Crimée le 29 octobre, les opérations ont souvent été couronnées de succès.

Les techniciens ukrainiens se disent désormais prêts à passer à l’étape supérieure, grâce à un système de vision intelligente permettant aux aéronefs d’identifier les véhicules militaires camouflés et de mener des attaques contre eux, le tout sans assistance humaine. Ce sera ne avancée importante, car les deux camps disposent de brouilleurs hautes fréquences capables de bloquer la communication entre les drones et leurs opérateurs humais.

Ce « progrès » qui constitue une bonne nouvelle pour l’Ukraine inquiète la communauté internationale. Le 21 octobre 2022, soixante-dix nations ont livré une déclaration commune lors de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, appelant à réguler voire à interdire l’utilisation d’armes autonomes. Mais les discussions sur le sujet, qui se sont ouvertes il y a plusieurs années, ne semblent guère avancer.

Référence

Common declaration

https://www.stopkillerrobots.org/news/70-states-deliver-joint-statement-on-autonomous-weapons-systems-at-un-general-assembly/

The research and development of new technologies is progressing at a rapid pace. New and emerging technologies hold great promise for the advancement of human welfare and could help to better protect civilians in conflict in certain circumstances. 

However, the introduction of new technological applications, such as those related to autonomy in weapon systems, also raise serious concerns from humanitarian, legal, security, technological and ethical perspectives. We therefore see an urgent need for the international community to further their understanding and address these risks and challenges by adopting appropriate rules and measures, such as principles, good practices, limitations and constraints. 

We are committed to upholding and strengthening compliance with International Law, in particular International Humanitarian Law (IHL), including through maintaining human responsibility and accountability in the use of force. 

Important work has been done and continues to be done under the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), including the endorsement in 2019 of the 11 Guiding Principles that, inter alia, should continue to guide the work of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Emerging Technologies in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. We are also encouraged that proposals on possible measures and options were presented and discussed at the GGE. 

Although it has proven difficult to translate progress made in the CCW’s discussions into further concrete outcomes, the consideration of substantive proposals facilitated the development of shared understandings and convergence on key substantive issues. This included, in particular, the approach based on the prohibition of autonomous weapon systems that cannot be used in compliance with IHL, and the regulation of other types of autonomous weapon systems. States may have different understandings of terms like human judgement, control or involvement. However, there is also a recognition, shared by many, that the human element is and must remain central in the use of force.

Against this background, we emphasise the necessity for human beings to exert appropriate control, judgement and involvement in relation to the use of weapons systems in order to ensure any use is in compliance with International Law, in particular International Humanitarian Law, and that humans remain accountable for decisions on the use of force.

Going forward, we recognise the importance of focusing efforts in particular on elaborating the normative and operational framework regulating, where appropriate and necessary, autonomous weapons including through internationally agreed rules and limits.

We also deem it important to further deepen our understanding of these issues. In this regard we welcome the announcement of an international conference to be hosted by The Netherlands on responsible military development, deployment and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the announcement of a regional conference, to be hosted by Costa Rica, on the social and humanitarian impact of autonomous weapons. We also welcome the work carried out by the Secretary General within the “Our Common Agenda” initiative to develop an Agenda for Peace, which features lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) as one of the core areas. We call on the Secretary General to continue to proactively engage on this important issue, including by urging States to make progress towards an outcome at the GGE. 

International organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNIDIR, civil society organisations and the tech community make important contributions to international discussions on how to address issues related to emerging technologies and autonomy in weapons systems, including the ethical, human rights, societal and technological dimension. Their participation greatly enhances our ongoing discussions.

We urge High Contracting Parties to the CCW, together with all UN Member States, to intensify consideration of this issue. We are committed to strengthen efforts to address the issue of autonomy in weapon systems. 

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