Even during a global pandemic, humans continue their journey back to the Moon. On May 30, the SpaceX Dragon Crew spacecraft, propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, carried two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. Years behind schedule, the first crewed launch of a private space vehicle was still a triumph.
Cesar Jaramillo talks with ICAN’s Tim Wright about the significance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, its impact, and how close we are to a world without nuclear weapons.
Evidence from social media is becoming essential to the study of modern conflict. Civilians and combatants are documenting war in real time, providing researchers with contemporary accounts, complete with photos and video.
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.”
We have an old saying: “yoo ollaan nagayaan bule, nagaan bulanni.” It is a saying shared in many African languages, which means, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.” The essence of this proverb guides the strengthening of relations in the region. We now strive to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony.
The United States Space Force is taking shape. A uniform of camouflage fatigues and an insignia that looks like something from Star Wars have been designed. A contest is under way to name its troops (both “space cadets” and “spacemen” are off the table). There are suggestions that the Force will be modeled after the U.S. Navy.
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction. Enabled by significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, fully autonomous weapons systems with the ability to select targets and employ lethal force with no human involvement—also known as killer robots—may soon emerge.
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.”
The history of arms control in outer space reads like a success story. Outer space is one of the few domains of human activity in which the focus has been on prevention. Although military satellites that provide communications, remote sensing, navigation, and timing services once dominated space and continue to provide essential military services, their operations have long been considered peaceful. Those of us working in space security say that space is “militarized but not weaponized.”
In January of this year, armed drones owned by Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group, killed several Yemeni government officials. This was the first time, as far as we know, that a nonstate group had successfully deployed a drone to carry out a precision-targeted operation. In September, the Houthis, with alleged support from Iran, were suspected in the attack on the world’s largest oil-processing facility in Saudi Arabia.