TOPIC BRIEFS

The question of chemical weaponry in warfare

The use of weapons of mass destruction in outer space: the next "Space Race"

Chemical warfare is when poisonous gasses and other toxic chemicals are utilized as weapons against an enemy in war. Chemical weaponry is a noxious chemical that can cause death, injury, incapacitation, and sensory irritation, deployed via a delivery system, such as an artillery shell, rocket, or ballistic missile. Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction; their use in armed conflict is a violation of international law. However, several nations continue to maintain active chemical weapons programs, despite a prevailing norm against using chemical weapons and international efforts to destroy existing stockpiles. Nerve gas, tear gas, and pepper spray are three modern examples of chemical weapons. The most common forms of chemical weapons include nerve agents, blister agents, choking agents, and blood agents. These agents are categorized based on how they affect the human body. Chemical weapons advance via many mechanisms, including ballistic missiles, air-dropped gravity bombs, rockets, artillery shells, aerosol canisters, land mines, and mortars. Chemical weapons are a tremendous threat to public health and the environment, causing irreversible damage. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified time. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) founded the CWC. The OPCW receives state-parties declarations detailing chemical weapons-related activities or materials and relevant industrial activities. After receiving proclamations, the OPCW inspects and monitors state-parties’ facilities and activities that are relevant to the convention; to ensure compliance. Eight countries declared chemical weapons stockpiles when they joined the CWC; Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Syria, the United States, Russia, and an anonymous state widely believed to be South Korea. Of those eight countries, Albania, South Korea, India, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Russia have completed discharging their declared arsenals. Syria, however, may not have disclosed its entire stockpile. The United States plans to complete the destruction of its chemical weapons around; September 2023. Although, When Russia, the United States, and Libya declared that they would be unable to meet their final destruction deadlines in 2012, CWC state parties agreed to extend the deadlines with increased national reporting and transparency. Chemical weapons still roam amongst these eight countries, which are the countries part of the CWC. While the aim of the CWC is the complete elimination of most types of chemical weapons, not all countries have abandoned their chemical warfare capabilities. Some weaker states have pursued chemical weapons programs as deterrents to being attacked by enemies that have either stronger conventional forces or their weapons of mass destruction, and some regimes have used chemical weapons to threaten especially vulnerable foes outside and even within their borders. Chemical weapons have proved to be a threat to our modern world; we must act and take all actions necessary to prohibit using chemical weapons in warfare.

Space is a new domain after land, air, and sea. It is fast emerging; as the new Economic High Ground and as the military frontier of becoming the new Strategic High Ground. In the last five decades, outer space has been used for scientific endeavors; civil and commercial applications as military support functions. The restraint of not settling weapons in space, so as not to disturb the international consensus on preserving outer space as the common heritage of mankind, is increasingly diminishing in the present world, with countries like the USA, Russia, and China undertaking ‘space control’ and ‘space force’ application missions. The power trends in the militarization of outer space have also shown their implication on the security of South Asia.

China has contributed its part to the militarization of space under the consideration of the security dilemma. As a result, India and the US are also crawling towards developing their space power, which is a threat to the security of Pakistan. Therefore, the strategic competition among nations has resulted in their massive investment in developing their space assets for military purposes and brought a paradigm shift in it. Space has become the fourth medium of warfare. The new plans from the major powers to utilize outer space to dominate and to create their hegemony in outer space will deteriorate the fragile peace in South Asia, as well as endanger the peace of the world. The dispute between the US, China, and Russia may lead to a collapse in Southeast Asia as a whole. Weaponization in space has proved to be a serious threat throughout the Cold War and has led to the next space race, could we be stimulating into the Next Space Race?

Tackling the issue of bioterrorism in Africa

Bioterrorism is the manipulation of disease crises by terrorist groups to achieve political aims. The increasing frequency of epidemics and pandemics such as Ebola and Covid-19, concurrent with the regional increase in terrorism, increases the potential for disease crises to be exploited as political weapons by terrorist groups, either directly or indirectly, especially in Africa. The intersection of terrorism and disease in Africa explores terrorism’s interaction with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), concerning targeted violence, anti-vaccination rhetoric, and anti-West suspicions in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Terrorism is significantly hindering polio eradication in these states and, it is arguable that this can turn into an expanded conceptualization of bioterrorism. Lessons are drawn from the GPEI to augment current understandings of terrorism, counterterrorism, and disease in Africa, with recommendations for future action. Africa is located within a precarious nexus of conflict, terrorism, and disease; bioterrorism, as a dangerous combination of the latter two, is a topic that is significantly under-researched in the African context, placing the continent in a vulnerable position for the decade moving forward. Experts at the Council of Europe have suggested that the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic may see an increased use of bioweapons by terrorists; after seeing the potential for mass disruption and destruction. There have already been terrorist groups exploiting the situation, as well as threats and reported cases of the Covid-19 virus being spread deliberately. It is important to act on the current situation in Africa and look for solutions regarding this predicament.