On April 30th, Christian Ciobanu, our Director of Policy and Advocacy, delivered a statement on behalf of the Republic of Kiribati at the 2024 Humanity at the Crossroads Conference in Vienna. Please find the video remarks and transcript below.

Christian serves as an Advisor on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to the Permanent Mission of Kiribati, where he works extensively with the Co-Chairs of the Intersessional Informal Working Group on Articles 6 and 7 of the TPNW. Christian is also the Coordinator of our youth initiative, Reverse the Trend (RTT).

Thank you, Chair, Excellencies, and distinguished participants. Kiribati thanks Austria for convening this conference on Humanity at the crossroads and commends Austria’s leadership in this domain. We are proud to have co-sponsored Austria’s resolution on lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee. As a small island Pacific State, we share concerns about the possible negative consequences and impact of autonomous Weapons Systems on Global Security and Regional and international stability, including the risk of an emerging arms race, lowering the threshold for conflict and proliferation, including to non-state actors, as stated in the resolution. Thus, we welcome our colleagues from EOAS who adopted a communication calling for Urgent negotiations of a legally binding instrument to regulate Autonomous Weapons Systems, as well as additional colleagues who also called for such a system instrument.

We contend that a new treaty is the only way for Humanity to be safe from these weapons. A new legally binding instrument should underscore the need for all states to comply at all times with international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and the UN Charter. This new treaty should contain an unambiguous definition of what is an autonomous weapon. In this regard, we agree with the definition presented by the International Committee of the Red Cross in its submission to the UN Secretary-General. Chair, given the current geopolitical situations across the world, we must safeguard the lives of civilians.

We cannot have uncontrollable weapons which cause indiscriminate harm and cannot differentiate between civilians and non-civilians. As a result, the treaty should address a series of prohibitions that include autonomous weapons which have artificial intelligence and hinder human users from understanding and predicting the system’s behaviors. We cannot allow any type of weapons that can potentially harm civilians. We welcome the forthcoming outcome document and look forward to further developments. Finally, we would like to thank Austria for initiating the beginnings of this dialogue at this historic conference. Thank you.