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Foreign Secretary Represents Sri Lanka at International Conference on Autonomous Weapons Systems in Austria

May 03, Colombo (LNW): Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane attended the ‘Humanity at the Crossroads: Autonomous Weapons Systems and the Challenge of Regulation’ Conference at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, last week, upon the invitation of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.

The conference, aimed at addressing concerns and challenges associated with the use of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), drew over 1,000 participants from 144 countries. Representatives from various states, the United Nations, international and regional organizations, academia, think tanks, industry, and civil society were in attendance.

During the panel discussion titled ‘Geopolitics and Machine Politics: How to Move Forward on LAWS?’, Foreign Secretary Wijewardane reiterated Sri Lanka’s longstanding commitment to advocating for conventional and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) disarmament and applying humanitarian principles in warfare. She expressed support for a legally-binding instrument regulating and prohibiting the use of LAWS. Other panelists included Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania Igli Hasani, Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister of Sierra Leone Timothy Musa Kabba, and United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu. Sri Lanka played a significant role as a main sponsor of the first-ever UNGA resolution on LAWS adopted last year.

Following the conference, Foreign Secretary Wijewardane engaged in bilateral discussions with Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chancellor of Austria Peter Launsky and her Austrian counterpart Nikolaus Marschik, Secretary General of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria. These discussions were particularly significant as both countries commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year.

During her meetings, Foreign Secretary Wijewardane briefed Secretary General Marschik on Sri Lanka’s recent economic progress and covered various bilateral matters including investment, energy transition, migration and mobility, visa, and tourism promotion.

Additionally, the Foreign Secretary met with Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Professor Daniel Froschauer to discuss potential musical collaborations between the two countries.

Accompanying Foreign Secretary Wijewardane were the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Austria and officials from the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Vienna.

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