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Policy Briefs

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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media Arrives on the Nuclear Stage

Policy Brief  No.66 - November, 2019

This brief draws from a Nautilus Institute, Technology for Global Security, Preventive Defense Project workshop, when a speed-scenarios exercise involving nuclear weapons and social media experts and practitioners was conducted to explore antidotes to potentially catastrophic effects of social media on the risk of nuclear war. To anticipate how social media might play out in the world of nuclear early warning, studies of social media in other domains where it was used to promote extremist views and behaviour were examined: anti-vaccination, anti-Semitism, gang, ethnic, and terrorist violence in cities. Four “short circuit” hypothetical, imaginary scenarios were produced at the workshop that explored how and what circuit breakers might be created that avoid or overcome the destabilising effect of social media on nuclear early warning systems and nuclear command decisions.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Arms Control and World Order: A Chinese Perspective

Policy Brief  No.65 - November, 2019

This policy brief analyses the seriousness of the challenges that the international arms control system faces, to explore whether it is possible and how to maintain the values of arms control and to keep the world in strategic stability. With a particular focus on China’s policy on nuclear issues and attitude to nonproliferation, the author argues that it seems to be inevitable for the international arms control system to face challenges at the current stage. The challenges are real and serious, but it is still possible to keep the world restraint and away from military competition, if the world community can work together and re-regulate big powers into the international institutions.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Arms Control and World Order: Report on the Toda Peace Institute International Workshop Vienna, 13-15 October 2019

Summary Report  No.64 - November, 2019

A recent international workshop of experts and diplomats has concluded that sweeping changes in the world order over the last two decades have contributed to the unravelling of the arms control regime. The workshop, convened by the Toda Peace Institute, the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs and the University of Otago, brought together representatives of the arms control communities in the United States, Russia, Europe, China, India, Pakistan, Japan and the Middle East. A key theme concerned the prospects for checking the dangerous dynamics now under way in this time of turbulent change. The workshop examined three historical precedents for managing international security and arms control cooperatively and drew a number of lessons for the present day.

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weaponised Information in Brazil: Digitising Hate

Policy Brief  No.63 - November, 2019

In the last few years, the world information ecosystem has been flooded by the “fake news” phenomena. The fragmentation and scale of the new communication tools help spread old ideologies, that uphold racism, homophobia, and oppression. This phenomenon particularly afflicts developing countries, because of the persistent inequality and political polarisation. This policy brief analyses the weakest points in Brazilian information ecosystem and demonstrates how that structure created a nurturing environment for disinformation and hate speech before and after the 2018 elections. It concludes with short- and medium-term strategies for governments, institutions and civil society, as well as tech and social media companies that will mitigate the negative societal disturbances of hate speech and disinformation.

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Venezuela’s 21st Century Authoritarianism in the Digital Sphere

Policy Brief  No.62 - November, 2019

This policy brief summarises extensive information on digital rights violations and politically motivated information disorders affecting Venezuelans, principally social media users. The brief focuses on the conflict dynamic between an authoritarian government and those fighting for re-democratisation. Venezuelan government policies and actions amid the process of eroding democracy are revisited. The most pressing issues affecting internet freedom and digital rights are scrutinised. Emphasis is placed on the discussion of the dynamics of the coordinated spread of online propaganda and government-sponsored disinformation. Issues surrounding the deployment of digital ID, biometrics data, and risks of massive surveillance are also identified. The brief concludes with policy recommendations for social media companies, journalists, civil society organisations, and policy shapers involved in democratic transition efforts.