This article is the English version of : Jean-Baptiste Jeangène-Vilmer, « Diplomatie des armes autonomes : les débats de Genève », published in Politique étrangère, Vol. 81, Issue 3, 2016.
Autonomous weapon systems – “Killer robots” in the popular culture – are weapon systems that can select and attack targets without human intervention. The first informal experts’ meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) was organized in 2014 at the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva, on the initiative of France, which also presided over the meeting. The last of these annual meetings took place April 11–15, 2016, under German presidency for the second consecutive year. It confirmed the growing interest in the subject from states and civil society: 95 states participated in the debates, alongside several UN institutions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), numerous NGOs from around the world, and 34 international experts (compared to 90 states and 30 experts in April 2015, and 87 state and 18 experts in May 2014).