In the fall of 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Operation IMPACT, Canada’s military contribution to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Approaching its sixth anniversary, Operation IMPACT is Canada’s most significant military operation since the war in Afghanistan.
Even during a health crisis, the need to make headway on security threats relating to nuclear weapons, autonomous robots, and other concerns remains. Project Ploughshares is still conducting rigorous research, providing fact-based analysis and commentary, engaging stakeholders in and out of government, proposing policy alternatives, and communicating our findings to our constituencies and the general public.
“Security theatre” is now being used to describe security measures that provide a false sense of safety by only seeming to address specific concerns. Typically expensive, such measures make life more difficult for ordinary people and actually decrease overall security by taking resources and attention away from effective responses. Moreover, some of these measures, like social profiling and the targeting of specific minority populations, can even pose dangers to human security if they are abused.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), widely considered the bedrock of the global nuclear disarmament regime, has not been immune to COVID-19. The latest in a series of Review Conferences (RevCon) of NPT states parties, which are held every five years, was to have taken place this past May at UN Headquarters in New York, but was postponed.
By early June, 38 countries had turned to a variety of technologies, including smartphone applications, location data analytics, wearable technologies, and even drones and unmanned ground vehicles to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and to control the behaviour of citizens during the pandemic. The use of some of this tech has raised concerns among civil libertarians.
The Iran nuclear deal has long been derided by U.S. President Donald Trump, whose actions have already jeopardized some of the concrete security dividends of the hard-won agreement. But his latest move constitutes a clear affront to international law that must be rejected, especially by countries like Canada that express strong support for a rules-based multilateral order. A flexible view …
Unfortunately, war zones are not immune to COVID-19. But conflict—particularly the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA)—does make an effective response to the virus almost impossible. UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted the relationship between COVID-19 and conflict in his March appeal for a global ceasefire.
This pandemic has in fact brought into sharper focus the choices that are made about where resources are allocated, which technologies are developed, and for what purposes. These types of choices are and will be particularly important when it comes to applications of AI for national and global security.
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.
Too much medicine is bad for us. So is too much public surveillance, even when it is supposed to protect us from harm. Certainly, surveillance and detection of a disease are critical to its containment. Disease must be tracked and then containment measures such as physical distancing and quarantine must be monitored and enforced. In the face of the current …
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