(Re)searching for Peace: First Anniversary of “Arms of Control and Emerging Technologies” at the IFSH

The world is in a state of upheaval. States are arming themselves. Newer and even more powerful weapons are being developed, and some are already being put to use. From the termination of the INF Treaty to the debate surrounding the Bundeswehr’s use of drones, current events regularly provide the experts working on the project “Arms Control and Emerging Technologies” with a starting point for their research. The research team, which is made up of physicists, social scientists and political scientists, approaches these topic areas from a security policy perspective:   
-    arms control related to conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction
-    preventative containment and monitoring of emerging technologies
-    the future of the European peace and security order
Team members are thus sought-after dialogue partners in the scientific community, politics and the media.  

Millions in Funding from the Federal Foreign Office  

One year ago, on 21 May 2019, the starting gun sounded. The IFSH marked the start of the project at the Hamburg city hall with a celebration that featured a speech by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs. The project received a total of four million euros in funding from the Federal Foreign Office. 

What Happened During Year One

Scholars from Oxford, Princeton, Paris, Brisbane and many other international locations travelled to Hamburg to research topics such as killer robots, cyberwarfare and nuclear disarmament. The team regularly welcomed visiting scholars as well.  Most prominent among these visiting scholars was Dr Paul Walker, founder of Green Cross International and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award for his activism in opposing the use of chemical weapons.

The project team’s research findings and position statements are regularly published online
The focus here is on current topics such as the Open Skies Treaty or the debate surrounding nuclear sharing. Ulrich Kühn covered the termination of the INF Treaty in an IFSH Policy Brief. A noteworthy study on the potential of trilateral arms control can be found here.

The transfer of knowledge to politics and the interested public also takes place in many other formats. For example, the research team designed an easy-to-understand explanatory video on the topic of arms races. And in late autumn 2019, the IFSH hosted its largest international conference to date: the „Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions“. Around 120 attendees took part in the conference, where they participated in a total of four panel discussions and eight workshops under the umbrella theme “Un-Cancelling the Future”. The goal of the conference was to map out a better future for today’s world.

The IFSH in Berlin

Since September 2019, the IFSH has been represented, for the first time, by its own branch office in the capital. Under the leadership of Dr Pia Fuhrhop, the new team led by Dr Oliver Meier and Theres Klose provides information and advice to political decision-makers in parliament and government ministries. Events for interested members of the public will soon follow.

What the Future Holds

  • April 23 marked the start of a joint project with the Körber Foundation.  The Körber Strategic Stability Initiative (KSSI), which is planned to run for one year, convenes a fixed circle of experts from China, Russia, the USA and Europe to develop possible courses of action to address current challenges in the areas of strategic stability and arms control.  
  • We are continuing to follow current topics such as the discussion surrounding the New START Treaty, the NPT Review Conference in January 2021, and the debate on nuclear sharing.
  • In our explanatory videos, we explain security policy in a way that is simple and easy to understand. In our next video, we will illustrate what happens when an atomic bomb detonates.
  • On 6 November, the IFSH—as a partner institution of the Federal Foreign Office—will participate in the organisation and direction of the conference Capturing Technology and Rethinking Arms Control.