Drones: From Technology to Policy, Security to Ethics

«Drones: From Technology to Policy, Security to Ethics». Poster for the conference organized by the ISN and ETH Global. Image: ISN

Rapid technological advances are making drones cheaper, more accessible and highly adaptable. Once the exclusive preserve of the world’s most advanced armed forces, unmanned platforms are now being used by civilian actors for a wide range of applications. Yet, while members of the technical community have tended to emphasize the opportunities that this technology offers, their counterparts in international relations and other fields have increasingly raised questions about the legal, ethical, humanitarian and security implications of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Against this backdrop, ETH Global and the ISN recently hosted a one-day conference that brought together over 160 experts from the fields of robotics, environmental science, law and ethics, and international relations and security. Since ETH Zurich is considered one of the world’s leading ‘competence centers’ in the field of robotics systems and control, its activities offer a glimpse into emerging UAS technologies and their potential social impact in the future.

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From 1989 to 2014: Young Vladimir Putin and the Irony of Helsinki

Mikhail Gorbachev & George H.W Bush signing an agreement on chemical weapons in Washington , D.C, 1990. Image: Executive Office of the President of the United States/Wikimedia

A quarter of a century has passed since the end of the Cold War. In the West, a new generation of leaders is in power, most of whom had little personal involvement in the East-West standoff that defined international politics for most of the post-1945 era.  By contrast, Russia has been under the stewardship of a leader who came of age politically with the fall of the Iron Curtain. Mikhail Gorbachev recently warned that a new Cold War is emerging. But what, if any, are the links between the events of 1989 and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014? Can we make sense of Europe’s renewed confrontation with its eastern neighbour by peering into the past? Reflection on the events of 1989 sheds light on those of 2014 in two ways: by illustrating how Vladimir Putin’s personal experiences of the end of the Cold War have shaped his foreign policy priorities, and by highlighting the importance of Mikhail Gorbachev’s acceptance of the Helsinki principle in shaping the post-Cold War European order. » More

Charlie Hebdo: The Balkan Connection

A demonstrator in Strasbourg holding up a ‘Je suis Charlie’ sign. Image: Jwh/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by World Affairs on 4 February, 2015.

Officials in both the Paris State Prosecutor’s office and Bosnia’s Ministry of Defense have now confirmed that the ammunition used in the Charlie Hebdo attacks was produced in Bosnia, and officials now believe that the weapons used in the attacks may have come from Bosnia as well.

Although it is still too early to say with any certainty how these arms and munitions made it to Paris, all of this is hauntingly reminiscent of similar such incidents in the past, such as the murder of Dutch film producer Theo van Gogh, in which, according to veteran Washington Post reporter Douglas Farah, the murder weapon had also been traced to Bosnia (other sources claim the weapon was produced in Croatia). There are other Balkan connections to the recent Paris tragedy as well. The “mentor” of Amedy Coulibaly (who killed a police officer and four other people in the attack on the Parisian kosher grocery store) and Chérif Kouachi (one of the brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices) was Djamel Beghal, a man who had been originally recruited by Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants and a man with both Bosnian citizenship and a Bosnian passport. Beghal himself was an associate of another Bosnian jihad veteran, the imam of London’s Finsbury Park mosque, Abu Hamza al-Masri, recently sentenced to life imprisonment in US federal court. » More

Jack Goldstone: “Migration, Islam and Security”

Refugees at Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, 2006. Image: Vito Manzari/Wikimedia

How secure is Europe? What is the future of the Muslim community in the West? What should be the nature of Europe’s relationship with the Islamic world? In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, these were some of the questions addressed by Dr. Jack Goldstone at a recent ISN-CIS roundtable held on 20 January 2015 at ETH Zurich.

After diagnosing Europe’s demographic situation, Dr. Goldstone’s message was a straightforward one: without continuing large-scale immigration, Europe will soon begin a rapid economic decline.  The continent therefore does not have an ‘immigration problem.’  It has an integration problem. » More

Between the EU and Russia: Opportunity or Dilemma for Serbia’s OSCE Chairmanship?

Between Europe and Russia. Image: bandvela/Pixabay

This article was originally published by the Security and Human Rights Blog on 22 January, 2015.

On 15 January, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić outlined the priorities of the 2015 Serbian OSCE Chairmanship at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. Foreign Minister Dačić stressed that the main priority of the Serbian Chair would be to continue supporting a peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine. In this context, he expressed support for the work of the Trilateral Contact Group, the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and their respective roles in helping to implement the Minsk protocols as well as the peace plan for the east of Ukraine. » More

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