Later this month, governments will meet in Geneva to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems. Previous talks – and growing pressure from civil society – have not yet galvanised governments into action. Meanwhile the development of these so-called “killer robots” is already being considered in military roadmaps. Their prohibition is therefore an increasingly urgent task.
The use of private security companies to combat piracy has led to a rise in the practice of converting vessels for the purposes of weapons storage. But these ‘floating armouries’ raise a number of concerns over security, oversight and transparency.
While the world’s attention has been focused on the US-led military interventions in Iraq and Syria a quieter build-up of military assets has been ongoing along the newer, western front of the War on Terror as the security crises in Libya and northeast Nigeria escalate and the conflict in northern Mali proves to be far from over. In the face of revolutionary change in Burkina Faso, the efforts of outsiders to enforce an authoritarian and exclusionary status quo across the Sahel-Sahara look increasingly fragile and misdirected.
As current discussions highlight the possibility of “major” cyber attacks causing a significant loss of life or large scale destruction, it is becoming harder to determine whether these claims are hype or are in fact justified fears. Esther Kersley, Katherine Tajer and Alberto Muti offer some clarity on the subject by assessing the major issues in cyber security today to help better inform the debate and assess what threats and challenges cyber issues really do pose to international peace and security.
While the US and its allies have had a monopoly on drone technology until recently, the uptake of military and civilian drones by a much wider range of state and non-state actors shows that this playing field is quickly levelling. Current international agreements on arms control and use lack efficacy in responding to the legal, ethical, strategic and political problems with military drone proliferation. The huge expansion of this technology must push the international community to adopt strong norms on the use of drones on the battlefield.
Despite the crumbling façade of its interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is preparing for a new century of ‘light footprint’ warfare, using Africa as its laboratory.
This week marks 10 years since the first reported US drone strike in Pakistan. It has also seen the resumption of US drone strikes in the country following a five-month pause. Considering the length of time the CIA-led programme has been running, a number of questions deserve consideration: namely, how effective has the decade long covert drone programme been in Pakistan and what impact have drones had on wider Pakistani society? As the military technology for remote-control warfare spreads, there is a need to question whether drones provide significant tactical advantage or whether their proliferation could lead to greater long-term global insecurity.