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Security Index: Jarmo Sareva on the essence of emerging technologies


MOSCOW, MARCH 2, 2017. PIR PRESS – “Both strategic stability and global security rely heavily on confidence. The inherent dual-use nature of all emerging technologies can undermine this confidence and has the potential to trigger arms races”, Jarmo Sareva, Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

The development of international relations has been historically influenced by the technological progress. But how can one estimate the impact of emerging technologies on international politics in the sphere of disarmament and security?

In the article the UNIDIR director Jarmo Sareva explains the essence of relations between emerging technologies (ETs) of XXI centure, strategic stability and global security. Sareva uses the denomination “emerging technologies” to describe autonomous weapons, cyber-technologies and space technologies, bio-technologies, 3D-printing or directed-energy weapons (DEW). 

The UNIDIR director points out the cheapness of easily weaponizable ETs that can empower non-state actors, cheapen the cost of military aggression and “change the nature of deterrence or compromise it as they are not clearly attributable and difficult to respond to through international humanitarian law principles of proportionality”. In his opinion, those characteristics of ETs can disturb the distribution of power between state and non-state actors and have the potential to trigger arms races. ETs “can empower both states and non-state actors which so far did not have the military leverage to weigh in the international order, thus disturbing the distribution of power – i.e. the structure of the international order”, says Sareva. 

Emerging technologies require to be thoroughly examined from political and legal angles as well. “ETs, posing new challenges, raise awareness on the pitfalls existing in the current legal framework and can question the fundaments of international law. This includes IHL whose definitions of the use of force, sovereignty, territory, attribution, perfidy, proportionality etc. do not always fit with ETs. This has the potential to destabilize the system, as legal tools are made to shape shared expectations between actors so as to enhance confidence and reduce misunderstandings. More broadly, the functioning of the international order is subject to change if states and non-state actors change their behavior because of ETs”, he claims.

The full text of the article: “Challenges to strategic stability and global security posed by 21st century technologies” is available in Russian in the new issue of Security Index Journal (118-119) 2016.

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