International Security & Defense

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Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Pathogens Have the World’s Attention: The United States Should Lead a New Push Against Bioweapons

| Mar. 16, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden has spoken frequently of restoring the United States’ credibility as a global leader. That task, which comes at a moment of global crisis, will require the United States to recommit to multilateral diplomacy, even while managing a dangerously deteriorating relationship with China. By acting on biosecurity—a neglected priority hiding in plain sight—Biden can make progress on all of these goals. Washington has an opportunity to lead in an era of heightened great-power competition, address the need for arms control measures that reduce the risk of biological weapons, and potentially even push China to cooperate to that end.  

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Postponement of the NPT Review Conference. Antagonisms, Conflicts and Nuclear Risks after the Pandemic

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has published a document from the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs concerning nuclear problems and tensions in the time of COVID-19. The document has been co-signed by a large number of Pugwash colleagues and personalities.

Chernobyl welcome sign

Wikimedia CC/Jorge Franganillo

Journal Article - Futures

Accumulating Evidence Using Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning: A Living Bibliography about Existential Risk and Global Catastrophic Risk

    Authors:
  • Gorm E. Shackelford
  • Luke Kemp
  • Catherine Rhodes
  • Lalitha Sundaram
  • Seán S. ÓhÉigeartaigh
  • Simon Beard
  • Haydn Belfield
  • Shahar Avin
  • Dag Sørebø
  • Elliot M. Jones
  • John B. Hume
  • David Price
  • David Pyle
  • Daniel Hurt
  • Theodore Stone
  • Harry Watkins
  • Lydia Collas
  • Bryony C. Cade
  • Thomas Frederick Johnson
  • Zachary Freitas-Groff
  • David Denkenberger
  • Michael Levot
  • William J. Sutherland
| February 2020

The study of existential risk — the risk of human extinction or the collapse of human civilization — has only recently emerged as an integrated field of research, and yet an overwhelming volume of relevant research has already been published. To provide an evidence base for policy and risk analysis, this research should be systematically reviewed. In a systematic review, one of many time-consuming tasks is to read the titles and abstracts of research publications, to see if they meet the inclusion criteria. The authors show how this task can be shared between multiple people (using crowdsourcing) and partially automated (using machine learning), as methods of handling an overwhelming volume of research.

WWI chemical weapon firing pipes

Wikimedia CC/Rosser1954

Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

Gas, Norms, and Statistics: The Jury is Still Out

| 2019

Damir Kovačević, Afrimadona, and Martin Claar's (KAC) statistical adjudication between the potential role of norms versus strategic deterrence in preventing interstate chemical-weapons use is a welcome contribution (Vol. 26, Nos. 3–4, pp. 251–66). The authors conclude that a powerful non-use norm is the most convincing explanation for downtrending chemical warfare. However, closer examination by  David M. Allison and Stephen Herzog in this response to the original article reveals several analytical issues, including inaccurate presentation of data and alternative explanations, that may undermine their results.

Members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron monitor an operational test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III missile

USAF/Michael Peterson

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Overwhelming Case for No First Use

| Jan. 13, 2020

The arguments in favor of the United States' declaring that the only purpose of its nuclear weapons is to deter others who possess them from using theirs — in other words, that in no circumstances will this country use nuclear weapons first — are far stronger than the arguments against this stance. It must be hoped that the next US administration will take this no-first-use step promptly.

Announcement - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

2020–2021 International Security Program Research Fellowships: Apply Now

Jan. 09, 2020

The International Security Program (ISP) is still accepting applications for 2020–2021.  ISP is a multidisciplinary research group that develops and trains new talent in security studies by hosting pre- and postdoctoral research fellows. 

Julius Weitzdörfer speaks at a seminar on managing the impact of nuclear disasters.

Benn Craig/Belfer Center

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Julius Weitzdörfer: Managing the Impact of Nuclear Disasters

| Fall/Winter 2019-2020

Julius Weitzdörfer’s earliest childhood memories are the major global events of 1986—the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and the Chernobyl disaster. Looking back, he realizes that these events must have contributed to shaping his later research interests in managing technological risks. 

Matthew Meselson

Future of Life Institute

Announcement - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Matthew S. Meselson Honored with the 2019 Future of Life Award for BWC Role

| Apr. 24, 2019

Dr. Matthew S. Meselson, Harvard University's Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences and co-Director of the Harvard Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons, received the $50,000 Future of Life Award at a ceremony at the University of Boulder's Conference on World Affairs on April 9, 2019.  The award honors Meselson's leading role in the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), an international treaty that not only affirmed the existing ban on the use of biological weapons, but also banned the production, stockpiling, and offensive research into biological weapons. The BWC also provides for a verification system.

Press Release - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Matthew Meselson Receives Future of Life Award for Work to Ban Bioweapons

| Apr. 09, 2019

Matthew Meselson, a driving force behind the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), has received the $50,000 Future of Life Award for his successful efforts to ban biological weapons – one of the most inhumane forms of warfare known to humanity. The award was presented on April 9 during the Keynote Ceremony of the Conference of World Affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder. April 9 marked the eve of the 47th anniversary of the signing of the BWC.