Re(x)sisting digital dehumanization: TEDIC and the regulation of autonomous weapons at the OAS

Blog Democracy

From June 26 to 28, Paraguay hosted the 54th Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), the region’s principal multilateral forum. This forum is known for addressing significant political issues and being a space where important decisions are made. This year, the theme was “Integration and Security for the Sustainable Development of the Region.”

In the context of this Assembly, TEDIC, along with other organizations part of the Stop Killer Robots campaign, aimed to influence a crucial issue: the regulation of autonomous weapons, also known as killer robots, and the use of artificial intelligence for the security of our countries.

TEDIC’s advocacy at the OAS Assembly

To highlight the importance of this issue, we presented our exhibit “Re(x)sisting Digital Dehumanization” at three key events during the Assembly’s observation week. Through these exhibits, we sought to pressure Latin American governments to take a strong stance on regulating autonomous weapons and to raise public awareness about the importance of this regulation.

Exhibit 1: “Voices for Rights” Seminar

The first event was the “Voices for Rights” seminar, organized by CODEHUPY. This seminar brought together over 100 human rights defenders for two days, providing a space to discuss the risks and ethical implications of autonomous weapons and the use of artificial intelligence in security. After the exhibit, seminar participants concluded with a symbolic march to the OAS Assembly headquarters on Wednesday, where their demands were voiced in the streets.

Exhibit 2: Women’s Assembly

The second event was the Women’s Assembly, which saw the participation of over 140 women. This space discussed how digital dehumanization disproportionately affects women and vulnerable communities, emphasizing the need for strict regulation of autonomous weapons.

Personas mirando exposición SKR

Exhibit 3: Civil Society Fair

Finally, we participated in the Civil Society Fair, organized by national and international organizations. This event allowed us to interact with local and regional organizations and a broad community, sharing concerns and strengthening alliances to push for the regulation of autonomous weapons in the region.

Through these exhibits, we aimed to raise awareness and mobilize Latin American governments to take a stand and act in favor of regulating autonomous weapons and the ethical use of artificial intelligence. The exhibits attracted significant interest, with each event receiving the participation of over 300 people.

At this fair, we coincided with Hazel Villalobos Fonseca, manager at Fundación Paz y Democracia (FUNPADEM) in Costa Rica. Together, we participated in various formal and informal spaces where we raised concerns driven by the campaign and created a video to expand our advocacy in the digital space.

The Global Stop Killer Robots campaign and TEDIC’s role

In Paraguay, our advocacy efforts have already shown positive results, with civil society organizations and government representatives taking a stance in favor of regulating autonomous weapons. Read the positioning statement here.

In February 2024, the UN sent a letter to States and civil society organizations requesting their observations on lethal autonomous weapons systems, known as “killer robots.” The letter seeks to address challenges and concerns from humanitarian, legal, security, technological, and ethical perspectives, ahead of the 79th session of the UN General Assembly in September this year.

At TEDIC, we organized significant meetings with civil society organizations and Paraguayan state institutions to discuss these challenges and form a joint stance. This effort included collaboration with organizations such as Amnesty International Paraguay, CODEHUPY, Heñói, Fundación Vencer, Semillas para la Democracia, and Tape’a.

On the state level, we committed to fostering an informed and constructive dialogue on the social and ethical impacts of defense technologies, influencing the formation of public policies, and ensuring that Paraguay contributes effectively to international debates on autonomous weapons systems.

Commitment to Regulation

Thanks to our advocacy, Deputy Raúl Benítez became the first Paraguayan parliamentarian to sign the Parliamentary Pledge of the Stop Killer Robots campaign, supporting the negotiation of a new international law on autonomous weapons systems.

At TEDIC, we celebrate this parliamentary commitment as a crucial step toward responsible technological development that respects human rights. We urge that these debates lead to the prohibition of autonomous weapons systems and ensure their regulation at national and global levels, emphasizing that technological advancement must always go hand in hand with ethics, humanity, and the protection of our human rights.