During a week of virtual sessions hosted in September at the Geneva offices of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Canada remained silent. Not once in the last year has Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs focused on autonomous weapons when explaining Canada’s foreign policy priorities.
With a global pandemic and a still undecided U.S. election forming a dramatic backdrop, on November 6, the German Foreign Office hosted a virtual conference, “Capturing Technology. Rethinking Arms Control.” This event, combined with an experts’ preparatory workshop on November 5, were used to shine a light on the transformational capabilities of new technologies on both “old” issues of arms control, such as nuclear weapons, and new ones, including autonomous weapons and drone swarms.
Any lingering doubts about the centrality of drones in modern warfare vanished as the world watched Azerbaijani military drones inflict serious damage on the Armenian military in the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Now some European and American defence analysts are asking if the rising use of drones is rendering some military equipment, such as tanks, obsolete.
The United States has relaxed its drone export policy, bringing into question the relevance of the existing arrangement guiding exports of drones, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Countries that were not allowed to purchase some U.S. drones under the previous understanding of MTCR guidelines now face fewer restrictions. While the United States is not likely to export lethal drones …
Why a blog about a recently released novel? Because, as many readers know, fiction is often a compelling way to capture our concerns about the future—and the present. In techno-thriller Burn-In, A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution, authors P.W. Singer and August Cole examine the many roles that technology can assume in 21st–century national and global security and in …
As global anxiety grows about the profound impact of the COVID-19 crisis, it may seem that no stone should be left unturned to resolve it. But governments’ use of technology presents clear risks of misuse and abuse. As the crisis unfolds, the methods used by states to tackle it will demand careful public scrutiny, rooted on legitimate expectations of enhanced transparency.
As more surveillance technologies are being used in this fight, a broader conversation has begun on the need to balance the demands of public health with the preservation of privacy and human rights.
Disarmament and arms control have not featured prominently, if at all, in mandate letters to Canada’s foreign ministers in many years. But at the end of 2019, Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne was given a new mandate to “advance international efforts to ban the development and use of fully autonomous weapons systems.”
Police forces were not forthcoming about their use of Clearview AI and facial-recognition technology in general, until a February report revealed that Canada was the largest market for Clearview AI technology outside the United States. The technology seems to have spread quietly, sometimes without the knowledge of those in charge.
The latest Humanitarian Disarmament Forum was held October 19 and 20 in New York City. In attendance were civil-society groups, such as Project Ploughshares, which work on arms control and disarmament concerns that fall under the umbrella of “humanitarian disarmament.” According to the Harvard Law School Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative, humanitarian disarmament “seeks to prevent and remediate the human and environmental harm inflicted by arms through the establishment and implementation of norms.”