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21st November 2022

UoM Amnesty International calls upon University to cut ties with Lethal Autonomous Weapons

UoM’s branch of Amnesty International has called upon the University to cut its ties with organisations that create Lethal Autonomous Weapons
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UoM Amnesty International calls upon University to cut ties with Lethal Autonomous Weapons
A member of UoM Amnesty International talks to Fuse TVPhoto: Fuse TV

The University of Manchester (UoM) Amnesty International has sent a resolution to the Students’ Union (SU), calling on the University to remove its association with Lethal Autonomous Weapons.

The campaign, which started with a banner-making event in the Students’ Union, is linked to a report by Stop Killer Robots, featuring contributions by UNA-UK and Amnesty International.

The report investigated the links between UK universities and companies that develop Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) – that is, weapons which have the capability to independently locate and destroy targets.

UoM Amnesty International has now proposed a resolution to the SU that will be voted on in February, if it reaches 50 votes on the SUggestions site. Their resolution is to make the SU “ask the University to take a firmer stance against it [LAWs].”

The resolution states, “LAWS are controversial weapons with no clear legal status, and we believe there is no place for them at any university”.

In addition, they would like the SU to sign the “Safe Future for Life Pledge.” This pledge is about removing and actively participating against LAWs.

Currently, the University has projects organised by BAE Systems, BP, Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd, MDBA Missile Systems, and more. Many of these companies are either directly or indirectly linked to manufacturing LAWs.

BAE systems, for example, is an Aerospace company which produces, among many things, “multinational arms and security”.

They partnered with the University in 2017 with the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Professor Martin Schröder, welcoming them, stated, “we look forward to working with BAE Systems on exciting research and education innovations.”

Similarly, the report notes a connection with MBDA Missiles Systems. While no announcement of this appears to have been made, MBDA has been associated with University award ceremonies for students for several years.

A University spokesperson said: “The University gives careful consideration to all of its research collaborations and follows all government legislation, regulation and guidance to protect national security and the integrity of research more generally.

“The University also considers carefully the ethics of AI applications. Notably, two of our recent major initiatives (the Christobel Pankhurst Institute and the proposed Turing Innovation Hub) have ethics and AI certification as central work streams. In addition, Manchester has played a leading role in the SPRITE+ digital trust and privacy network.”

Shikhar Talwar

Shikhar Talwar

Hello! I am the MMG News Producer. My job is to ensure collaboration between all 3 wings of MMG, namely Mancunion, Fuse TV and Fuse FM. I also write for the news section at the Mancunion, with topics ranging from elections to protests.

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