In order to persuade its allies in Israel and Gulf Arab states to support the Iran nuclear deal, the United States is relying on inducements of weaponry sales; this regional militarisation is destabilising the wider Middle East region.
Is the US backpedalling on its use of depleted uranium (DU) rounds? There are indications that the use of these highly toxic munitions could increasingly be a political liability for the US, with countries affected by DU, like Iraq, other UN Member States, and populations in contaminated areas all expressing concerns over its use and impact. But stigmatisation, although important, is not enough on its own – in order to make sustained progress on accountability and in reducing civilian harm, a broader framework that addresses all toxic remnants of war is needed.
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.
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.
Barack Obama’s new strategy against the Islamic State commits the United States to further long-term conflict. It involves a great forgetting of the recent war in Iraq.
Despite not yet entering into force, the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has succeeded in almost eliminating nuclear weapons testing and in establishing a robust international monitoring and verification system. A breakthrough in its ratification by the few hold-out states could have important positive repercussions for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or nuclear disarmament in the Middle East.
The centenary of the First World War also marks the anniversary of the practice of recording and naming casualties of war. But a century on, new forms of ‘shadow warfare’ limit the ability to record casualties of conflict and thus threaten to allow states a free hand to employ dangerous new tactics without threat of individual or international accountability. Without verifiable casualty figures, – including information on who is being killed and how – we cannot evaluate the acceptability, effectiveness or impact of ‘remote control’ tactics as they are rolled out among civilian populations.
Control of water, including navigation rights, resource extraction and the exploitation of shared watercourses is at the heart of today’s geopolitical tensions in Asia. China’s recent actions in the South China Sea and Himalayas have given rise to further—and at times violent—conflict over the region’s natural resources. So will water insecurity lead to greater partnership in Asia? Or will it lead to a revival of China’s traditional sense of regional dominance and undercut efforts to build a rules-based approach to growing resource conflicts?
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.
The ‘humanitarian dimension’ initiative highlighting the consequences of nuclear weapons has evolved and consolidated itself in the non-proliferation regime since 2010. The five nuclear weapons states (NWS or P5) under the NPT – China, France, Russia, UK and US – boycotted the first two international conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. A third conference will be held in Vienna on 8-9 December 2014. This article gives five reasons why the P5 should consider participating.