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Lee Rigby Murder Suspect Michael Adebowale Appear In Court; Syrian Peace Conference Less Likely; Chen Guangcheng Disappointed With U.S. Efforts To Protect His Family

Aired May 30, 2013 - 16:00   ET


ATIKA SHUBERT, HOST: Tonight, Syria's president says his forces are gaining ground, but how much help are they getting from across the border?

Plus, Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng on why his troubles back home are far from over.

And they can run, they can jump, but should robots be sent into battle?

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

SHUBERT: First tonight, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he has absolute confidence that his government can win the war against rebels. He gave an interview with al-Manar, a television station of Hezbollah. And al-Assad said the balance of power is shifting in favor of his forces, despite what he calls a global attack against his regime.

He also addressed Russia's controversial plans to send surface-to-air missiles to Syria. And while he didn't directly answer whether those missiles have been delivered, he did say all contracts will go ahead, and some already have.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We do not comment on military matters usually, not what we have or what will arrive. The contracts are not related to the conflict. We negotiate with them for various kinds of weapons for years. And Russia is fulfilling these contracts.


SHUBERT: The Syrian president also urged Arabs to stop fighting amongst themselves, saying they've forgotten that the real enemy is Israel. Nick Paton Walsh is following developments tonight from Beirut.

Nick, what kind of a message was Assad trying to send with this?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly this is him talking to his new overt ally Hezbollah from here inside Lebanon here at the weekend, declared openly they would fight along his side to the bitter end. He's talking to that audience. He very clearly said that the joining for the battle for Qusayr that Hezbollah did is not about assisting him in the Syrian civil war was the point he'd tried to make, it's about bolstering the resistance against Israel. The logic there that many in the region will find hard to follow.

He was also clear that he wasn't about to relinquish power, said he'd run again for elections in 2014 if the people wanted him to. And also he addressed that issue of the missiles, which earlier in the day some Lebanese media reports had made it sound like he was specific the weapons had already arrived.

A bit of mystery left in exactly what he said. We did, however, speak to a weapons expert who explained just how long it would take even when those missiles arrive to get them operational. Let's hear what he had to say.


ROBERT HEWSON, EDITOR, JANE'S AIR-LAUNCHED WEAPONS: The text book way of doing this would say that it would take several months to be really operational and effective, but can you rush a capability in to have a quick and dirty defensive capability? Yes, you could do that in a week or two.


WALSH: So very clearly, though, the aim of this interview to show him relaxed, almost jovial at times. Hezbollah's intervention clearly, I think, most believe has taken a little bit of the pressure of the Syrian army for the time being. And I think this is clearly a message to the audience of Hezbollah here in Lebanon and the world, of course, too, to say we're very much working together for this. And I understand quite what the end game is -- Atika.

SHUBERT: So, how is this being received in the region, particularly in neighboring Lebanon?

WALSH: Well, certainly the intervention of Hezbollah has made many very anxious that we would see reprisals against them here inside Lebanon and perhaps some sort of mirror of the sectarian violence inside Syria which blighted Lebanon itself back in the 80s.

The key thing, though, that this interview really did push forward was the desire for these peace talks. He was clear he would attend in principle Geneva II. But today we've begun to see that whole idea fall apart slightly. The Syrian opposition in its first coherent statement came forward and said that they would attend these talks, which the U.S. and Russia are trying to push forward, perhaps even as early as next month if what Bashar al-Assad's regime was not involved in the political future of those particular talks. And that's a massive precondition for Damascus, one clearly the Russians believe was too much, one that Assad himself isn't really going to accept at all.

So today, despite both sides saying in principle they're willing to go there, they all have these caveats which really mean it's unlikely you'll see both sides in a constructive situation talking at the table, though Assad did nothing in this interview to suggest he wasn't willing to attend. We just see that the entrenched positions of both sides are now pretty much incompatible -- Atika.

SHUBERT: Yeah, so thank you very much. That's Nick Paton-Walsh for us in Beirut.

Well, as fears mount of the Syrian conflict sparking a regional war, let's take a closer look at how the region is divided. Just take a look at this map here.

You can see the countries in yellow. Those support the opposition SNC, notably Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Bearing the bulk, of course, of Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict.

Now the countries in orange, Iraq and Iran in particular, support the Assad regime.

Lebanon, however, has tried to remain neutral, but of course with members of Hezbollah now openly supporting Assad.

Now let's look at this on a global scale. Broadly speaking, these countries in yellow support the SNC either as the official government or as partners in dialogue. However, they remain divided over whether to arm the rebels. Really, only Britain and France have overtly pushed for this as a possible solution.

Russia, of course, has a long history with Syria. It has a naval base in the country and supplies weapons to the region -- to the regime, excuse me, as we know.

Now Russia and China have repeatedly blocked UN resolutions calling for stronger sanctions against Bashar al-Assad and his government.

Well, today's Syria's main opposition group said it will not take part in an upcoming peace conference, quote, so long as the militias of (inaudible) Hezbollah keep up their invasion.

So, Hezbollah militants from Lebanon are fighting alongside Syrian troops in Qusayr. Bashar al-Assad is trying to downplay Hezbollah's role, but the UN warns it could destabilize the entire region.

So, let's get some perspective now from Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center of the London School of Economics.

Thank you very much for joining us. Fawaz, let's start with Hezbollah. Why are they becoming involved in this and why now?

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Hezbollah has made it very clear, Atika, that the real battle is inside Syria. Syria is the backbone of the resistance, in particular Hezbollah. Hezbollah believes that what's happening in Syria is not an internal struggle between Assad and the opposition, it's part of a conspiracy spearheaded by the United States, Israel and its regional allies.

In fact, Hezbollah believes that unless Hezbollah intervenes in Syria, the next target would be Hezbollah. He believes Hezbollah Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah believes in his most recent speech he said the target, the real target is the axis of resistance. Once Bashar al-Assad falls, then Hezbollah would lose its strategic depth. It would become besieged.

He said we're not fools to wait until the battle comes to Lebanon, we must be proactive, we must defend the axis of resistance, defend the Assad regime.

SHUBERT: Now, the UN top human rights body has condemned the use of foreign fighters, Hezbollah, in Qusayr. Just how bad could it get for the region? How destabilizing? And is this going to be another obstacle to the diplomatic efforts to resolve this conflict?

GERGES: Atika, I mean we have said it many times even on your show. What's happening in Syria now is more than just an internal conflict. Now it's an open-ended war by proxy. You just mentioned the two major coalitions. You talked about Turkey here in Istanbul, talked about Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the western powers on the one hand. You talked about Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and to a lesser extent Iraq, not to mention Israel. Israel is also deeply involved in what's happening inside Syria.

It would take a spark to ignite a region-wise conflict. Hezbollah's involvement in Syria not only complicates an already complex situation, it basically changes the battlefield on the ground.

Remember, Atika, Hezbollah is one of the most potent non-state actors in the Middle East. Even Israel and the United States take Hezbollah very seriously. In fact, Syria's involved -- Hezbollah's involvement in Syria in the last few weeks has already produced major results, in particular in the battle for Qusayr, a very strategic battle on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

So apart from the strategic ramifications for Hezbollah's involvement on the battlefield, also it tells you that the regional powers, the regional players now are waging battles inside Syria. Syria is a battlefield. And that's why the United States and Russia are trying to intensify the diplomacy, trying to prevent this conflict from spiraling out of control, trying to basically slow the momentum to where it's all-out war in the region.

SHUBERT: Thank you very much. That's Fawas Gerges, the director of the Middle East Center of the London School of Economics live for us in Istanbul. Thank you very much.

Well, still to come tonight, a traumatic start, also a miraculous rescue. What's next for the newborn baby known as Baby 59.

A dissident who is now in the U.S. says China continues to persecute his family. He tells us why the U.S. needs to act.

And the fight against racism in football heats up on a tropical island. We're live in Mauritius later in the show.

All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


SHUBERT: You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Atika Shubert. Welcome back.

Well, a suspect charged in the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby made his first court appearance today in London. This was a preliminary hearing for 22-year-old Michael Adebowale. And he has not asked to enter a plea.

Now CNN's Fred Pleitgen was at the court.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a very short hearing here at the Westminster's Magistrate's Court and it only took a little less than 10 minutes. And what happened was that Michael Adebowale was brought into the court room. He was then asked to identify himself. He was also asked for his residence and also if he understood the charges against him. He said, yes to all of these things.

Now the charges against him are, of course, murdering the soldier Lee Rigby, but also illegal possession of a firearm, because apparently during that incident that took place last Wednesday he was carrying a Dutch made revolver. So those are the things that happened there today.

The other suspect, Michael Adebolajo is still in hospital, is still recovering. Of course there was a shootout after that incident, that murder took place, the murder of Lee Rigby where Adebolajo was wounded. He's still in hospital. He's not been questioned yet. And the investigation in this also is still going on, the police are still asking people, witnesses to come forward and to give any sort of further detail about this case. They just want to go through the process step by step and make sure they get everything right.

The case here is still very much in the media as well and is really something that society is dealing with, too. There's a sea of flowers at the scene that continues to grow by the day. And there is still of course also an outpouring of support for the Rigby family.

Meanwhile, the case against Michael Adebowale has been referred to a higher court, to the central criminal court here in London.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.


SHUBERT: We're going to take you now to a situation we've been monitoring, the U.S. state of Oklahoma. We're getting some live pictures there where tornado warnings are in effect in the central part of the state. Moore, Oklahoma, which is near Oklahoma City could be hit with another round of fierce weather. It's already trying to get back on its feet after a devastating and deadly twister earlier this month.

Now, in addition to tornado warnings, the National Weather Service says tornado watches are also in effect across seven states from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Michigan and Minnesota.

So we'll keep watching those developments there and get back to that if anything happens.

Now moving on, a letter sent to the White House has been turned over to the FBI for testing. It looked similar to a letter sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which investigators say contained the poison ricin.

Now a law enforcement official says the White House letter was addressed to President Barack Obama.

In China, no charges have been filed in the case of a newborn who was rescued from a sewage pipe this week. The infant, referred to as Baby 59, is now in the care of his maternal grandparents. But some say desperation lies behind the child's ordeal.

CNN's David McKenzie reports.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is where this extraordinary story unfolded, on the fourth floor of this building. The pictures have gone across the world. A mother who panicked, rushed to the toilet, according to police, and she gave birth after she had complained from stomach aches. The child got wedged inside a sewage pipe. And the images have become famous, hacking away at the pipe and trying to get the child out.

They then came here with the pipe, brought it on to the street and tried to get him out right here, this newborn. But it was impossible to reach in and physically pry him out. It was just too narrow. So they took the pipe to a nearby hospital and they pried it open with pliers, surgeons and the firefighters. They called the child, baby 59, after the incubator it was placed in. And the latest details are this. Apparently the mother's parents took the child away. The hospital and police saying that it was sufficiently recovered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): With assistance from our local police, the baby's family came to the hospital and took away the baby. The baby's condition met the rules to be discharged from our hospital.

MCKENZIE: Amazing when you consider the ordeal that it went through. Neighbors say that this could have been all a case of a mother being ashamed at her situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): After she became pregnant, she moved out of her parents place. She said she couldn't explain to her parents how come she was carrying a baby when she was so young and single. She has no solution but staying at this place. And day after day, her belly was growing.

MCKENZIE: People in this area and particularly people that were in the building where this happened are too afraid and ashamed to talk to us. And the family, both the mother and the parents, have asked that their privacy be respected. It might be hard to believe, but the police are saying that this is really an accident. The investigation's met up with what the woman said about her ordeal. They say it could have been just a case of someone who was very afraid and very ashamed.

David McKenzie, CNN, Jinhua, China.


SHUBERT: Live from London, this is Connect the World. Still to come, Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng accuses the U.S. of selling out on democracy. Next up, he tells us why.

Plus, without humans how would killer robots distinguish between targets and civilians? A debate on the future weaponry of war still to come.


SHUBERT: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Atika Shubert.

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has been living in the United States for just over a year now, but the blind lawyer says he is no closer to getting justice for crimes he says were committed, and continue to be committed, against his family.

Well, Becky Anderson recently met Chen who expressed his disappointment with both the U.S. and Chinese governments.

But before we get to that interview, here's the story so far.


SHUBERT: A blind lawyer living in a small village in China's Shendong Province, yet when CNN tried to meet Chen Guangcheng back in February 2011, this is what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man has no authority. He has no authority to push us out of here. He is not a police officer. He has not shown any badge. He is not with any uniform...

SHUBERT: Chen was meant to be a free man after serving four years for disrupting traffic and damaging property. He denied the charges and maintains he was imprisoned for campaigning against China's human rights record and one child policy.

For 18 months, he and his family were prisoners in their home, a plight that attracted the attention of actor Christian Bale who was also assaulted as he tried to visit Chen.

CHRISTIAN BALE, ACTOR: Why can't I go -- why can I not go visit this man?

I was held as the reinforcements arrived. They definitely wanted to try and hold me on the spot, but I realized that at the very least the camera was going to be taken and we would have no footage and that was very much the point that if we couldn't get in to see Chen himself, that we had to have footage to show to the world.

SHUBERT: In April, 2012 Chen made headlines himself, escaping his home and seeking refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. It led to a political firestorm, but within weeks the U.S. and China made a deal, allowing Chen to move to New York.

The activist says he also received assurances his family would be protected and that his case investigated.

CHEN GUANGCHENG, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST (through translator): I am very gratified to see that the Chinese government has been dealing with the situation with restraint and calm.

SHUBERT: But in Chen's absence, his brother claimed he was beaten. And the activist nephew was jailed for injuring officers the family alleges broke into their home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My family is ruined, but I don't regret helping Guangcheng. We have done nothing illegal. He helped those in need. And at least we can answer to our conscience.

SHUBERT: In the States Chen has continued his fight for justice. And in October 2012 received a human rights award presented by Christian Bale.


SHUBERT: The U.S. Congress has also voiced its support for his cause.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: And when it comes to guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of all of her citizens, the Chinese government has a responsibility to do better. And the United States government has a responsibility to hold them to account.

SHUBERT: A pledge Chen Guangcheng is now calling on the U.S. to keep.


SHUBERT: The self-taught lawyer was recently in London for the launch of an Amnesty International report on human rights. And he told Becky Anderson that his family is still being targeted by authorities back in China. And he accuses the U.S. of sitting on its hands.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You allege that members of your family have been subjected to systematic persecution since you left, allegations in the past that Chinese authorities have denied. What evidence to you have?

GUANGCHENG (through translator): Of course I have evidence. People can conclude from the facts. Since April, they've been constantly attacking my elder brother's home. They've throne stones, bricks, dead chickens, dead ducks, and beer bottle bombs into the home at night.

My fourth brother lived some 50 kilometers from our village. The tires of his car were slashed one night by someone with a pretty big knife. After he changed on new tires, they were slashed again.

My elder brother's microblog account was canceled in Beijing.

Look, a small-time local hooligan just wouldn't have the power to cancel microblogs. This means the attacks were organized systematically.

ANDERSON: Does any of this, though, surprise you? And when you say you feel let down by Washington in that they are not doing enough to investigate what happened to you and indeed what is happening it seems to your extended family, what do you think Washington should do?

GUANGCHENG (through translator): I think Washington can definitely do more on the human rights issue. We can see they've reached lots of unwritten understandings with the Chinese Communist Party. With these understandings, I think the United States is selling out its very foundations like democracy, freedom and human rights. As we know, the Chinese Communist Party has not delivered on its promise to thoroughly investigate the criminal officials who had persecuted me and my family in Shendong Province over the past few years and to resolve the case publicly.

They also promised to ensure the safety and civil rights of my family and friends, but they've done none of these things. However, President Obama has agreed to the wishes of the Chinese Communist Party to not support me openly promoting human rights in the United States. In fact, he has fulfilled this demand very well.

On this matter, the White House has never made any public announcements.

ANDERSON: Are you saying that you feel that when it comes to human rights abuses and the protest of human rights abuses, that the Americans have sold out to the Chinese?

GUANGCHENG (through translator): I wouldn't say it's a total sellout, but at the very least, the United States has not tried its best.

ANDERSON: If you knew what would happen to your family, despite what you feel as a human being, why do you continue to do this?

GUANGCHENG (through translator): When we are faced with evil, the best response is to say no. If you compromise with them, they ask for more. Today, you lower your head to him, tomorrow they will ask you to bow, the day after they will ask you to kneel down.

ANDERSON: Will you go back to China?

GUANGCHENG (through translator): I think in the future I will return to shore. This period of history, where only a handful of people in China can decide the lives of more than 1 billion people -- who can go abroad, who cannot, who can return, who cannot, this won't last for long.


SHUBERT: Well, CNN reached out to Chinese authorities to reaction to Chen's claims. And here is what we have received. The director of the propaganda office in Shendong province where Chen's village is located said he was not aware of Chen's allegations. And the head of the propaganda office of the Hunan County (ph) government denied the targeting of Chen's family saying, quote, "it's not true. It's impossible."

Now we have also sought comment from the White House, but have not received a response.

Well, the latest world news headlines just ahead. Plus, a world where robots become our biggest enemy, only this isn't a film. Some say it's a reality.

And achieving the education her mother never had. We meet the remarkable young girl with big dreams about female education in Sierra Leone.

And then a vote to fight racism in football, it's only hours away, and we've got a preview from FIFA's big gathering in Mauritius.


SHUBERT: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad says he's confident his forces will win the civil war. He gave an interview with Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar. Now, al-Assad didn't directly answer whether Russian surface-to-air missiles have been delivered to Syria, but he did say all contracts will go ahead and some already have.

One of two men accused of killing a British soldier made his first appearance in a London court. It came two days after Michael Adebowale was discharged from the hospital. The 22-year-old is charged with murder in the death of Lee Rigby. His case has been referred to a higher court where he'll have a bail hearing on Monday.

A newborn baby rescued from a sewage pipe in China this week is out of the hospital, and that hospital is now in the care of his maternal grandparents. The mother remains in the hospital. Police are still treating the case as an accident and no charges have been filed.

Well, we have live pictures now. One of our affiliates is reporting a tornado on the ground in the US state of Oklahoma. We're checking on that for you. We do know that tornado warnings are in effect across the central part of the state. Moore, Oklahoma, which is near Oklahoma City, could be hit with another round of fierce weather. It is already trying to get back on its feet, of course, after that devastating and deadly twister earlier this month.

Now, machines with the power to kill humans. Murderous robots on the loose sounds the movie "I, Robot." Well, some it's actually a danger now facing the world. Take a look.



SHUBERT (voice-over): A futuristic danger in Hollywood films like "The Terminator," now a big enough threat to warrant a United Nations debate. Robotic technology has already advanced to levels that wouldn't look out of place in a sci-fi blockbuster.

These robots, developed by the Pentagon, can climb stairs, detect and avoid obstacles, and even correct themselves if you push them around. Robots are getting close to being able to do the physical tasks that we can do and more. It's only a matter of time before they appear on the battlefield.

Machine technology is already being used to kill. We've seen that in drone strikes against the Taliban and other terrorist groups, but behind the drone technology, there is still a human being calling the shots. Giving robots the power to make those life-or-death decisions themselves is what the UN is discussing.

A computer's ability to analyze and think is improving all the time. Google has been experimenting with neural networks, a kind of artificial brain capable of teaching itself independently from human programmers. And that raises a scary question: will the artificial intelligences that power our robots one day decide to push back?


SHUBERT: Well, a UN human rights expert thinks that danger is all too real. In a report present -- excuse me -- presented to the UN Human Rights Council, Christof Heyns called for a moratorium on lethal autonomous robots until, at least, a global framework for their production and use can be established. He warned of the mechanical slaughter and lack of accountability that could result from killer machines being deployed.


CHRISTOF HEYNS, UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: They may lower the thresholds for states to go to war, it may make it easier for states to engage in war. It's possible that they may not meet the standards of international humanitarian law. And it's also a question, who will be responsible if they kill a large number of people, for example?


SHUBERT: Well, drones that are in use today are already controversial, so what would the reaction be to machines capable of murder without a human being to control them? Well, joining me to discuss this is Thomas Nash, who is against the idea of killer robots, and Ronald Arkin, who thinks they could be beneficial.

Well, Ronald, I want to start with you -- thank you both for joining us. Could you give us an example of a killer robot that might actually do some good?

RONALD ARKIN, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Well, first of all, I would take exception with the phrase "killer robot." The UN report uses "lethal autonomous robots," which is more accurate. Using a charged term such as "killer robots" does nothing to forward the debate that's going on.

But getting back to the notion of what could lethal autonomous robotic systems potentially do that might be good? Well, there are significant amounts of atrocities still, unfortunately, occurring in the battlefield.

And the question is, can we create systems that can potentially outperform human beings with respect to their moral performance in the battlefield? Human beings inherently commit atrocities.

And if these systems could potentially go beyond what human beings are capable of -- and notice I say "potentially," not "definitely" -- if they could, that could lower casualty rates of non-combatants in the battle space, and best serve as a humanitarian effort as a mobile precision-guided munition.

SHUBERT: I want to go to you, Thomas Nash, now. Lowering casualty rates. This sounds like a good thing. There could be benefits in the long term. So, why a blanket ban?

THOMAS NASH, DIRECTOR OF ARTTICLE36.ORG: Well, we think that the -- that removing humans from the decision to use violent force would be crossing a fundamental moral boundary, and we think it would be very ill- advised to go down that road.

I think it would be a shift -- a very significant shift in the way we as societies view the use of violent force. And we're very pleased, actually, that this message was endorsed by the 26 states that participated in the debate in the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

And we are very confident now, having listened to those states, that a new international process to develop a treaty to prohibit fully autonomous weapons will be forthcoming very soon.

SHUBERT: Thomas, let me ask you, you worked with robotics. Also robot -- as a robot ethicist. What are the failsafes that we can put into these machines, and who is ultimately responsible if they are going to be making these decisions on their own?

NASH: I'm not sure if that question was to me. I'm not a roboticist. I work on international humanitarian law, so if we want a roboticist to answer, then perhaps we should --

SHUBERT: Actually, Ron -- I asked that question to Ronald, sorry about the confusion.

ARKIN: Not a problem. The real question is that humans will always be in the loop, so to speak. Actually, the whole frame of the discussion saying humans in the loop is a red herring. There will always be people at some particular level in the discussion.

We're talking about robots that are not autonomous in the philosophical sense. They will not have free will. They will not have moral agency. They can never be accused of a war crime because they can't commit one. There is no ability in them to possess this high level of intelligence anytime in the near future.

Rather, these systems will comply with existing -- if we are capable of doing it -- existing laws of war that are formulated by human beings. Right now, we have systems, such as the Phalanx system on Aegis-class cruisers. Any fire and frigate system, which can be launched as well, too, which can engage targets, but a human being deploys them and a human being is responsible for them.

There is -- the basic premise is that the robot didn't do it any more than if a precision-guided munition landed on a church or a mosque -- God forbid that that should occur -- but if it did, it wouldn't be the bomb's fault, and it's not going to be the robot's fault.

There is always a human being in establishing a chain to make sure that a human's culpability, if these systems are misused, is truly important.

SHUBERT: What do you say to that, Thomas, and how do you ensure that these are ethically developed?

NASH: Yes, well, I think it's -- what we're saying is that it's essential that we have meaningful and accountable human control over every individual attack during conflict.

And I think that if you allow for systems that would be able to select different targets from within an array of different potential targets and then itself engage those targets without any further human intervention, without a human being at the computer screen pressing the button to say yes, then I think if we have that, we are crossing a line that is a line that we would be ill-advised to go down.

Because I think it will lead to proliferation of weapons and systems that are autonomous within a -- perhaps within certain time and space constraints. But we don't think it's too much to ask that there should always be human control, meaningful human control, over every individual attack.

SHUBERT: Let me ask you both a question now, and I'll start with you, Ronald. Is this -- for many people, this might sound all like sci-fi, deep into the future, but is this a reality now? How close are we to actually seeing this already out in the field?

ARKIN: Well, it's really a question of how you define what these systems are, as I mentioned earlier. I was part of the expert panel that helped assist Christof Heyns of the UN draft this particular report, and I fully support the call for a moratorium so that we can get a deeper and better understanding before we move forward.

This is not an imminent threat, though. The United States has already, through a Department of Defense directive, put in what I view as a quasi-moratorium on the development and deployment of the kinds of systems that I believe Thomas is worried about.

But I also will say that I'm not adverse to a ban if, indeed, this proves to be an uncontrollable threat. But the point is, if we can address the plight of the non-combatants in the battle space through the use of technology, which is woefully underutilized to deal with that particular problem, and thus save lives, I think it's important to wait before we call for an outright ban.

SHUBERT: I am sorry, I am going to have to wrap it up, though I know I've left you out Thomas, I apologize for that, but thank you very much, it's a fascinating debate, and I'm really glad we're able to talk to you both tonight. Thank you.

Now, live from London, we're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. After the break, one remarkable girl's battle against female illiteracy.


SHUBERT: Imagine being told you will never be taught to read or write because you're a girl, and the person condemning you to illiteracy isn't a religious extremist, it's your own mother. In Sierra Leone, that story is all too common. But, as Fredricka Whitfield reports, one girl decided to change it to give her story a happy ending.


SARA, SIERRA LEONE STUDENT: My name is Sara. I love reading, and I love writing stories.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sara is a natural storyteller, but the young woman with the Tinkerbell backpack doesn't write fairy tales.

SARA: They opened a school at a village and a girl wanted to go to the school, but her parents said that only the boys are supposed to go.

WHITFIELD: It's the story of war-torn Sierra Leone, where poverty, forced marriage, and violence have kept many women from getting an education. Women like her mother.

SARA: She can't read and she can't write. But I can read and I can write, so I think that makes a big difference between me and her.

WHITFIELD: Sara went to live with her aunt, who's a teacher, so she could go to school.

SARA: She's educated and she wants me to be like her.

WHITFIELD: She's part of a project called Girls Making Media. Sara is speaking up because she wants a different ending for herself and other girls.

SARA: I report on the gender discrimination against girls in Sierra Leone. If you do that through the radio, I think people deep in the village will hear something about it. My dream is for me to become a superstar of Sierra Leone.


SHUBERT: Sara is now in secondary school. She wants to go to college and become a lawyer. Her story is part of our CNN film "Girl Rising." It celebrates the power and promise of educating girls. You can see "Girl Rising" on Saturday, June the 22nd, at 8:00 PM in London, 9:00 in Berlin, and 11:00 in Abu Dhabi, right here on CNN.

The push not only for girls' education but the rights of women has gained extraordinary momentum in the past eight months. That is since the Taliban attempts -- Taliban's attempt to assassinate Malala Yousufzai, and the call for change inspired the Pakistani schoolgirl will grow even louder in London this weekend.

The stage is currently being set for a live concert designed to raise money for projects that ensure girls and women around the world get the education, health care, and justice so many have been denied.

Well, Becky Anderson caught up with the man in charge of staging Sound of Change Live and began by asking why fashion house Gucci decided to pay for the entire event.


KEVIN WALL, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "SOUND OF CHANGE LIVE": It's very unusual. It's unusual for a huge company to take a risk. We don't see it as a risk. They don't. They're passionate about women's causes, women's events around the world, and this was a way of collating all of that good work under a global umbrella shell.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The cause is girls around the world and women. How easy is it to get people involved? I'm talking about those who will be on the stage.

WALL: Most of the people wanted to do it. Most of the people reached out to us to do it. And we've got a fantastic lineup of both activists and major stars, so that we really get the attention of the world.

But as you know, women's issues, women's equality, women's empowerment, is the most important thing. It comes to girls' education or maternal health, or really justice, the change in laws around the world.

And I think a lot of people always think it's over there. But actually, it's here in the UK. It's in the United States. It's in Australia, it's in Japan. This is a global issue, and it's finally time to have the tipping point.

ANDERSON: Talk to me about the lineup.

WALL: Well, the lineup -- Beyonce is a co-founder of Time for Change, and also she's the major star with Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, Tim Berlin, a couple of surprises that I can't tell you about that are fantastically big artists. It's going to be great.


SHUBERT: Just ahead on CONNEC THE WORLD, it's the night before football's big vote to fight racism. We'll take you live to the FIFA Congress in Mauritius for a preview.

And it's been 60 years since humans first reached its summit and now a Russian daredevil has found the quickest way down the world's most iconic peak. We've got Everest's latest world record coming right up after this short break.


SHUBERT: Tonight, no holiday for world football power brokers. They're gathered on an island in the Indian Ocean grappling with serious issues. The fight against racism tops the agenda at the FIFA Congress in Mauritius, and CNN's Amanda Davies is there.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Most people come to Mauritius to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine. But this week, world football's governing body is here, and they plan to get tough on racism.

DAVIES (voice-over): On Tuesday, the 25-person executive committee agreed the three-point plan put forward by the Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force. Now, they need a majority vote from congress on Friday to see it through.

It will be item 11.2 on the agenda proposing that there'll be a special official at stadiums identifying acts of discrimination.. There should be a two-step sanction strategy, starting with a fine or a match behind closed doors, and then increasing to point deductions or relegation. And there will be an emphasis on the responsibility of member associations and clubs.

The task force also recommends a minimum five-game ban for any player or official found guilty of racism. But coming less than a week after European football officials recommended a minimum ten-game ban, do these proposals go far enough?

MOYA DODD, VICE PRESIDENT, ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION: I think these things are very specific to the situation. I think it's very difficult to pre-judge what particular penalty should apply in a general kind of way.

What I think is most important out of all of this is that there is some genuine recognition around the world of what is racism, what is discrimination, and begin to change attitudes.

DAVIES: Racism isn't the only item on the agenda in Mauritius. Two years after Sepp Blatter talked about football's stormy seas amidst corruption and cash-for-votes scandals, this meeting is meant to signal the end of FIFA's reform plan, a package critical not only for the credibility of world football's governing body, but also for its president.

KEIR RADNEDGE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "WORLD SOCCER": When you think of FIFA, it's really very, very poor. And that is not because of what's been accomplished or not accomplished in a reform program. That's what's happened over the last 10, 20 years.

And there are an awful lot of good people working in FIFA, but he work they do an the image they have has been tarnished significantly by what a few people got up to at the top of the organization.

DAVIES (on camera): Sitting here, it's easy to forget the scale of the scandals that FIFA's faced over recent years. There's some concern the initial plans have been watered down. So the question remains: do the reforms do enough to ensure there's no more scandal on the horizon?

Amanda Davies, CNN, Mauritius.


SHUBERT: So, the 63rd annual FIFA Congress could be a game-changer. Amanda Davies is with us live, now, from Port Louis, Mauritius. Amanda, on the subject of racism, there are plenty of players that have ideas on just exactly what needs to be done. So, just how much of a difference could this make?

DAVIES: Hi, Atika. Yes, it could be a very important day tomorrow, Friday, when the FIFA Congress convenes. We've had the opening ceremony here in the capital of Mauritius this evening a couple of hours ago. A very glitzy ceremony and dinner.

But there is a lot of work to be done, as you saw there, in terms of the actual Congress day on Friday. There's a 44-page agenda. One of the main items on that is the recommendations that have been put forward by the anti-racism and discrimination task force that was set up earlier this year.

You might remember because of the moment when Kevin-Prince Boateng, the Milan player, walked off the pitch in a friendly game in Italy, having been racially abused by the supporters. The game was then stopped, and that led FIFA to set up this task force, after a run of racist incidents across football, across the world, in recent times.

A ten-man task force was set up. One of the men on that was Kevin- Prince Boateng himself, and I caught up with him a couple of months ago in Zurich, and this is what he told me at the time he wanted to see recommended.


KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG, AC MILAN MIDFIELDER: In football, now, I would say that -- I would give the power -- all the power to the referees and I would even go so far to say whatever -- if you hear a little bit and you hear it again, stop the game. Because that's the only way I think you can make these voices silent. That's the only way.

I think I would put more power in the -- and even maybe put people in the stadium. Maybe sit some people in the crowd that they can hear and see, maybe, that it's racial or that it's very aggressive, even, sometimes.

I think maybe just put them around and let them hear, and then let them say and tell what they heard, so this can be even an option, to even first to understand, to feel it and to see what is going on.


DAVIES: So, there are the three proposals being made at congress, that is one of them, that there will be special officials inside the stadium. For anything to be passed by the congress, it needs a two-thirds majority vote. That's two-thirds of the 209-member nations.

But the world on the street here from all the meetings that we've been at and the people we've spoken to over the last couple of days is that recommendations will be passed without problem. So that means as of this weekend, June the 1st, any player or official found guilty of a racist act will be banned for a minimum five games, Atika.

SHUBERT: Well, thank you very much. That's Amanda Davies for us, watching that FIFA Congress in Mauritius.

And in tonight's Parting Shots, there is extreme and there is jumping off Mount Everest. This is Russian daredevil Valery Rosov successfully completing a world record BASE jump from the world's highest mountain.

It took Rosov four days to climb from base camp to his jumping point at over 7,000 meters above sea level. Red Bull, the team behind the stunt, says he was traveling at speeds of around 200 kilometers per hour, and it only took about a minute before he landed safely on a glacier down below.

Now, the jump took place in early May, but Red Bull only just released this video to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay becoming the first humans to reach Everest's peak.

Well, on that high-adrenaline note, it's time for a good-bye. I'm Atika Shubert, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you very much for watching.