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Five initiatives to promote global disarmament

Binding regulations are needed for lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Binding regulations are needed for lethal autonomous weapons systems., © dpa

20.04.2019 - Article

The Cold War ended many years ago. Even so, it is once again high time to talk about disarmament. New arms races pose threats to peace around the world. Disarmament agreements that for decades made the world a safer place are under pressure. The INF Treaty is at breaking point due to Russia’s violation of it. The New START Treaty is also being called into question. Moreover, killer robots and cyber weapons have made possible a new and dangerous method of warfare for which no internationally recognised rules exist. Germany wants to counteract this dangerous trend by:

1) Putting disarmament back on the agenda

Whether it be in the United Nations Security Council, at the large arms control conference that was held in Berlin on 15 March, at NATO or during official visits to Moscow, Washington and around the world – Foreign Minister Maas has launched a diplomatic initiative to put disarmament back on the global agenda.  

2) Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty

To reverse the current trend and refocus on nuclear disarmament, Foreign Minister Maas has used Germany’s UN Security Council membership to put forward an initiative to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty. A first milestone has already been achieved: in a joint declaration, all members of the Security Council have reaffirmed their commitment to the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – including the goal of nuclear disarmament.

3) Starting a new discussion

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas chairs a UN Security Council meeting on the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Even during the Cold War, stakeholders engaged in constant dialogue to ensure that mutual mistrust or misinterpretation would not lead to ever greater risk. Today, we are again in urgent need of such mechanisms. We must help all actors realise that they have a common interest in the kind of security that is created by mutual trust and transparency.

4) Banning autonomous weapons

Space weapons, autonomous killer robots and hypersonic missiles may soon become a very real threat. Germany has therefore launched an initiative at the UN aiming to ban fully autonomous weapons.

5) Getting China on board

The very large increase in China’s military capabilities is currently not accompanied by any international confidence-building measures. Any effort to create greater global security through disarmament must therefore include engagement with China. This is why Germany will intensively use its lines of communication with Beijing to press for transparency and arms control.

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