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UNITED NATIONS: Voicing concern over the deterioration of global security, Pakistan has called for evolving international norms to govern the use of armed drones and other new weapon systems strictly according to the United Nations Charter, international human rights and humanitarian law.

“Technology must follow the law and not the other way around,” Ambassador Zamir Akram, the Pakistani delegate to the General Assembly's First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security matters, said.

He said Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), that would choose and fire on pre-programmed targets on their own without any human intervention posed a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and the notion of affixing responsibility and transparency.

Akram, who is Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN's European offices in Geneva, said the use of this weapon in the territory of another state outside the zone of conflict was contrary to international law. It was a challenge to security and sovereignty of a state, as it involved the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, including women and children.

At the outset, Ambassador Akram said that contrary to expectations, the global security environment had increasingly deteriorated since the end of the cold war as a “just and secure world order continued to elude us”. Part of a zero-sum game, security for all states was being trumped by “narrow selfish interests”, he said.

“The ambition for world domination and hegemony has undermined accommodation and engagement as the basis of a rules-based cooperative multi-polar world,” he said.

“Absolute security for one state or a group of states cannot come at the cost of diminished security for others.” That trend has “severely damaged” the international arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament regime, Akram said.

“The aspirations and pretences for a world free of nuclear weapons do not match practical action on the ground,” the Pakistani delegate said. “We continue to observe the application of double standards, exceptionalism and revisionism based on narrow security, political and commercial considerations.”

At the same time, he said new weapons systems were being developed, including anti-ballistic missiles, non-nuclear strategic weapon systems, armed drones and LAWS.

Nuclear-weapon states must demonstrate renewed commitment in achieving nuclear disarmament within a “reasonable” timeframe, he said, adding that without that commitment, the “bargain of the non-proliferation regime” would continue to erode.