Past, Present and Future of Emerging Security Threats - Way Forward for Trust-Based International Cooperation
With the unprecedented global death toll from COVID-19, there has been a growing need to raise international awareness on emerging security threats. The widespread infectious disease / that took thousands of lives daily worldwide, together with threats emanating from new technologies /have been impacting global security in ways in which the world is not prepared for, compelling many countries to adopt haphazard and at times counterproductive policies.
- In 2022, the world has yet to put an end to COVID-19. Variants of COVID-19 continue to emerge, with a few posing a serious threat to global public health. - At the same time, as remote engagement and online interaction become more prevalent, the world is witnessing increasing intrusions and attacks in cyberspace. - The world has yet to understand the full extent of the security challenges that emerging technologies pose. Drones, robots, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology are all being developed at lightning speed without much consideration to governance and ethical and security questions.
Stronger international cooperation and global governance are key to reducing uncertainty in dealing with these threats.
And this year, WESF aims to identify lessons learned from responding to past threats, take a closer look at the present situation, and come up with ways to address such emerging security threats, while taking full advantage of the new technologies in reaching sustainable development and peace.
As technologies advance and cyber threats evolve, emerging cyber threats are hampering effective international cooperation to reach an open, secure and peaceful cyberspace, including efforts to promote confidence-building measures.
Cyberattacks occur every day, and societies that are most sophisticated and advanced in the use of cyber space for activities such as banking, commerce and communication, face significant vulnerabilities.
Since cyberspace has been considered to be a domain of warfare, along with land, sea, air and, potentially, outer space, many predicted that extensive cyberattacks would occur with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Contrary to the forecast, cyberattacks committed during the invasion appear to be limited, without any crippling damage thus far. Meanwhile, a range of malicious cyber activities, including the spread of disinformation and psychological warfare, have been observed. The diversity of cyber activities implies a need for a different methodology from that on which existing measures are based.
During the war in Ukraine, the role of non-state actors in cyberspace has become increasingly prominent.
Google’s decision to disable its mapping traffic data to protect Ukrainian citizens and Microsoft’s cooperation with the Ukrainian government in managing cyber security threats are examples of how complementary public-private partnerships can work. It would be worthwhile to discuss whether such examples show potential for contributing to international peace and security.
Health Security : Lessons Learned from the Pandemic and Prospects for a Global Pandemic Treaty
Two years after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 in January 2020 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the world is still facing variants and cases of reinfection amid growing expectations of a possible transition from a pandemic to an endemic.
Moreover, given the history and increasing frequency of health crises, it is anticipated that outbreaks of new transmittable diseases will occur periodically, requiring system-wide preparedness on the part of the international public health architecture.
Several problems and limitations that appeared in the global community’s response to COVID-19 has led to increasing demands for the improvement of the global health security governance.
These problems include inadequate sharing of information in the early stages, lack of readiness and resilience, shortcomings in public understanding and awareness, and, despite the impressively fast development of effective vaccines, problems of inequity in their distribution and availability.
From identification and early response during the initial stage of the outbreak to vaccine distribution, there is a consensus among nations on the need to strengthen global public health governance, and thus negotiations have started in the World Health Organization on the Global Pandemic Treaty (GPT).
Based on the lessons learned from the problems and limitations shown in responding to COVID-19, the GPT should include measures to improve global governance.
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response’s recommendations to focus on improving rapid, flexible, and preventive responses in preparation for recurring and unexpected health security crises should be considered. In addition, it is necessary to enhance international cooperation in research and information to strengthen scientific evidence, which requires the cooperation of the private sector with technologies for the development and production of vaccines and medicines.
Emerging Technologies and Security : Future of Global Governance on Emerging Technologies
With the accelerating advance of emerging technologies, some emphasize the necessity of establishing global governance for their responsible development and use.
- Efforts to start discussions on governance are faced with challenges, including the absence of international consensus on the definition and scope of emerging technologies and difficulties predicting the impact of future technologies at the pre-commercialization stage, particularly when applied to artificial intelligence (AI). - AI technologies hold great promise in enabling breakthroughs in medicine, basic and applied science, managing complex systems, and creating products and services. However, they also pose challenges when it comes to explainability standards, guidelines for use, safety considerations and weaponization.
AI technologies hold great promise in enabling breakthroughs in medicine, basic and applied science, managing complex systems, and creating products and services. However, they also pose challenges when it comes to explainability standards, guidelines for use, safety considerations and weaponization. If deployed in the military sector, there are also challenges of ensuring human decision-making on key issues (often known as “keeping humans in the loop”), and the risk – and the impact on strategic stability – of cyberattacks on military installations and systems.
- Recent efforts by international bodies and governments to establish principles on the development and use of AI suggest ways to encourage cooperation with the private sector.
- As well as proposals for regulation of AI technologies, governance discussions could also focus on ethical norms, such as the concept of responsible innovation. And in addition to inter-governmental discussions, informal discussions and exchanges outside government frameworks are also valuable.
Future discussions of AI-governance could follow several tracks. There are examples of existing international law.
Such precedents as the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War suggest formats to define, codify and prohibit the types of damage to individuals or national and international security that the misuse of AI can cause. As well as proposals for regulation of AI technologies, governance discussions could also focus on ethical norms, such as the concept of responsible innovation. And in addition to inter-governmental discussions, informal discussions and exchanges outside government frameworks are also valuable.