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Digitalization and Disarmament: The Future is Now, are we Prepared for it?

The Hague -

OPCW and UNICRI event during the 4th Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention

More than 70 experts, including representatives of the Member States of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), private sector, academia and civil society, attended a dedicated meeting discussing the impact the rapid technological growth is having on non-proliferation, disarmament, and global security in general.

Discussions focused on what more the future holds, and how advancements in the technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and blockchain might be capitalized upon to strengthen implementation of relevant international treaties and norms.

The meeting, which took place during the Fourth Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, in the Hague (The Netherlands), was co-organized by the OPCW and UNICRI, through its Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. The event was also accompanied by a virtual chemical industrial site visit, and digitized scheduled chemical quizzes and other virtual demonstrations of technological advances.

The world is becoming increasingly digitalized, to the extent that artificial intelligence and tools for digital transactions and data protection such as blockchain are not the ‘future’, they are the ‘now’. "Digitalization is occurring all around us and there is no turning back. It impacts the way we live and work, even when we do not realize it. Perspectives from those investing in, developing and adopting emerging technologies are valuable for understanding what is happening, we must understand how to evolve with and shape our changing world, not fear it", said Science Policy Advisor of the OPCW, Mr Jonathan Forman.

As these topics are debated and discussed in international fora, digitalization marches forward, with increasing adoption of automation and data exchange in industrial processes, including by the chemical industry. This, so-called, “Industry 4.0” is set to transform this sector, enabling strategic growth and streamlining operating environments.

"Views expressed today from the representatives of relevant stakeholders are aimed to finding technological solutions to utilize advances in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and blockchain for the implementation of the international non-proliferation and disarmament regimes, which will contribute greatly to the global peace and security.” said Irakli Beridze of the UNICRI Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

In their Report to the Fourth Review Conference, the OPCW’s Scientific Advisory Board took note of, and discussed the enabling power of digital technologies for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

UNICRI, through its Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and its CBRN Security Governance Programme, is taking stock of the impact of such emerging technologies from a security perspective, looking in particular at the malicious use by criminals and terrorist groups, as well as beneficial use of such technologies and their positive impact on the international legal framework.