Verification and monitoring of conventional as well as cyber-weapons

Defence spending has increased dramatically in some regions of the world while progress on arms control remains stymied.

Conventional forces

For many years, the 1990 Conventional Forces Europe (CFE) Treaty continued to be a principal element of European arms control, but the Russian Federation suspended its participation in 2007. In March 2015, it took the step to withdraw from the Joint Consultative Group. The treaty’s elaborate, and highly effective, verification system has been on hiatus since 2013. The programme will focus on the reinvigoration of conventional arms control in Europe by examining the field’s contribution to early warning, early action, as well as conflict prevention and management. It will pay particular attention to sub-regional issues. Hence, one key element of the programme’s work will be to raise awareness of the effectiveness of the CFE verification regime.
However, the treaty is also perceived by many to be technically outdated. For instance, it does not take into account new military doctrines relating to cyber warfare, rapid reinforcement capabilities or air and sea forces. The programme will, therefore, seek to examine how the CFE architecture could be updated to fit a new European security environment.

Meanwhile, conventional arms control is virtually non-existent in Asia, where defence spending in 2015 may for the first time outpace that of Western countries. This rearmament drive has placed many regional countries under pressure. The programme will, therefore, examine the prospects for, and possible configuration of, a conventional arms control framework in the Far East.

The programme will maintain a watching brief on the implementation of the Vienna Document and the Open Skies Treaty.

Cyber weaponry

Cyber weapons and cyber warfare are relatively new phenomena. To date, countries do not disclose doctrines relating to the offensive use of cyber weapons. Technology is accelerating the flow of information. Responding to cyber attack may require making decisions at network speed using systems that are themselves targeted.

Leaders across the globe have identified cyber attacks as one of the greatest threats facing developed nations. The rising importance of cyber security issues is also part of a global trend of moving towards remote control warfare, which minimises engagement and risk while extending its reach beyond a conflict zone. The programme will continue to examine the role of cyber attacks in remote control warfare placing particular attention on issues relating to verifiability and monitoring of attacks, as well as attribution.

The arms trade

The programme will maintain a watching brief on verification and monitoring implications of the 2012 Arms Trade Treaty, with a view of establishing up a strand of work complementary to efforts already on- going elsewhere.