This Chronology shows how different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) concerned with the prospect of fully autonomous weapons have advocated for a ban on these weapons and come together to establish the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. It also tracks significant developments in government policy and practice with respect to the call for a prohibition on fully autonomous weapons. For a comprehensive listing of academic articles on this topic, please see the ICRAC website.


Aug. 18: In the Guardian, roboticist Prof. Noel Sharkey warns against the development of fully autonomous robots that make their own decisions about lethality and calls for their urgent international regulation.


Mar: Landmine Action (now Action on Armed Violence) expresses support for the creation of an international treaty against robots that make their own targeting decisions.


Sep: Noel Sharkey, Juergen Altmann, Peter Asaro, and Rob Sparrow agree to establish the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), calling, inter alia, for “prohibition of the development, deployment and use of armed autonomous unmanned systems”


Aug: UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Prof. Philip Alston, reports that, “Urgent consideration needs to be given to the legal, ethical and moral implications of the development and use of robotic technologies, especially but not limited to uses for warfare.”

Oct: ICRAC convenes its first experts’ workshop in Berlin and calls for an international treaty to prohibit development, acquisition, deployment, and use of armed autonomous robot weapons.


Apr: In an article for the International Journal of Intelligence Ethics, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams calls for a ban on “fully autonomous attack and kill robotic weapons.”

May: Dutch NGO IKV Pax Christi issues a report outlining its ethical and legal concerns with the use of armed drones and autonomous weapons.


Mar. 5: British NGO Article 36 calls for a ban on military systems that are able to select and attack targets autonomously.

Oct. 19: Representatives of seven NGOs meet in New York and agree to form a coordinated civil society campaign to secure a comprehensive prohibition on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons.

Oct. 20-21: At a Campaign Summit in New York representatives from 40 NGOs working in humanitarian disarmament commit to take action against fully autonomous weapons.

Nov. 19: Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic launch a 49-page report Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots, which calls for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons.

Nov. 21: The US Department of Defense issues a policy directive on autonomous weapons, making the US the first government to spell out its policy on these weapons.


Apr. 22-23: The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is launched in London with an all-day NGO conference, press briefing, and Parliamentary event.

May 23: Campaign representatives participate in a seminar on unmanned military systems in SWP in Berlin.

May 30: During the first Human Rights Council debate on lethal autonomous robotics following the presentation of the report by the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, 20 governments make their views known for the first time: Algeria, Argentina (for GRULAC), Austria, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and US. More than 20 nations attend a Campaign to Ban Killer Robots side event on May 28. See Report on Outreach.

Jun. 11:  Kill Decision author Daniel Suarez calls for an international treaty to ban autonomous robotic weapons at a TED Global talk in Edinburgh.

Jun. 17: During the UK’s first-ever parliamentary adjournment debate on lethal autonomous robotics the government’s Alistair Burt said “We cannot develop systems that would breach international humanitarian law, which is why we are not engaged in the development of such systems.”

June 19: A University of Massachusetts survey of 1,000 Americans finds a majority oppose fully autonomous weapons and support actions to campaign against them.

Aug: The International Committee of the Red Cross issues a “new technologies” edition of its quarterly journal, including fully autonomous weapons.

Sep. 3: More than 20 countries attend a seminar convened by France at the UN in Geneva on fully autonomous weapons systems.

Sep. 4: HRW’s Steve Goose and Georgia Tech Professor Ron Arkin speak at a Zebis (Zentrum für ethische Bildung in den Streitkräften) event in Berlin on autonomous weapons.

Sep. 4: Norges Fredslaget begins its public campaign to secure Norwegian support for a ban on fully autonomous weapons.

Oct: During the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York, 16 governments make statements on killer robots, including for the first time Costa RicaEcuadorGreece, India, IrelandJapanNetherlandsNew Zealand, and South Africa. Strong turn-out for consecutive side events on fully autonomous weapons.

Nov. 5: IKV Pax Christi’s Miriam Struyk speaks on autonomous weapons and military technology at the University of Amsterdam.

Nov. 8: AAR-Japan hosts an event in Tokyo featuring a presentation by ICRAC’s Dr. Peter Asaro.

Nov. 11-14: Italian campaign  events in Rome  with Nobel Laureate Ms. Jody Williams.

Nov. 11-15: At the the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva, 35 nation express their views on lethal autonomous weapons systems, including 15 nations for the first time: Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Ghana, Holy See, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Madagascar, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine. A Campaign to Stop Killer Robots side event on Nov.13 attracts 120 delegatesfrom dozens of countries.

Nov. 15: States parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons agree to a mandate to begin work in 2014 on the emerging technology of “lethal autonomous weapons systems.”  

Nov. 20: Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights debate on autonomous weapons by ICRAC’s Dr. Peter Asaro and Prof. Matt Waxman of the Lawfare Blog.

Dec. 3-5: Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights experts meeting in Divonne, Switzerland on armed drones and robots


Feb. 6-7: US Naval War College holds a workshop on “legal implications of autonomous weapons systems” attended by armed forces representatives from the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, and UK

Feb. 24-25: Chatham House holds its first conference on autonomous military technologies

Feb. 26: At a Strategy Meeting of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots in London, PAX (formerly IKV Pax Christi) launches an animation film produced for the campaign and its first report on killer robots, entitled “Deadly  Decisions – 8 objections to killer robots”

Feb. 27: By a vote of 534–49, the European Parliament adopt its first resolution calling for a ban on “development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention”

Mar. 5-7: Campaigners brief a meeting of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters in New York

Mar. 26-28 (Geneva): International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) experts meeting on autonomous weapons systems attended by 21 nations plus campaign representatives

This Chronology is supposed to illustrative and not comprehensive. Comments are welcome.