On 24th February in San José, Costa Rica, a group of 33 Latin American issued a joint Communiqué committing to work together for the urgent negotiation of an international legal instrument on autonomous weapons.

This Communiqué is an important political foundation for the work ahead. Although it doesn’t set a specific roadmap for the way forward it commits states to a clear common goal – the negotiation of an international legal instrument – and it provides a model that could be followed by other regional groups. Importantly, it normalises political work on the issue outside the CCW and it brings into the conversation Caribbean states who are not represented in that forum.

This (multi-)regional meeting of states was preceded by an international civil society meeting of the Stop Killer Robots campaign.  That meeting demonstrated the clear energy and commitment in the civil society community, energy that has only grown with the achievement of this political outcome.

It has been a busy start to 2023 and there is a real feeling of momentum – and of potential for the year ahead.  The UN CCW meeting on autonomous weapons in March is not expected to achieve any major breakthroughs, though it may contain valuable further thinking on content. However, the stagnation of the CCW will now stand in contrast to real political action. Belief that such political action is possible is a powerful force for change.

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