Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Experts discussed smart technology in SALW control

On behalf of the German Foreign Office, BICC organized an international conference from 17 to18 June 2013 in Berlin, entitled “Smart Technology in SALW Control: Civilian Protection, the UN Programme of Action, and Transfer Control”. For two days, 80 participants from 17 countries including scholars, manufacturers, diplomats, politicians, UN representatives and members of NGOs met to discuss the present and the future of smart technology in small arms and light weapons (SALW) control.

All photos: Thomas Ecke/BICC

Electronic devices could enhance substantially the safety and security of firearms. Devices designed to constrain the use of a weapon to the legitimate user, to prevent the use in certain areas, to disable a firearm via remote control, or to record and monitor its use are either already available or technologically feasible. Such smart technologies could contribute substantially to combating the illicit use of firearms, stopping diversion of weapons into the illicit sector, avoiding accidents, or impeding suicides. 

“At this stage, the conference is meant to be a brainstorming event. We want to get a sense of where we stand and what might be the way forward in using technology to make the use of weapons safer and increase security,” Ambassador Rolf Nikel, German Foreign Office, stated in his keynote speech.

The conference was divided in panels, which intended to open and broaden the discussion on various facets of smart arms. The first panel shed light on the global framework of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The next introduced the technical possibilities and visions in smart weapon technology, followed by a discussion about the social and political implications arms control is facing in conflict and post-conflict countries. 

Another panel discussed the specifics of export control and the tracing of small arms and light weapons. Here, the question was raised of how smart technology can, could, or should contribute to arms control. Well aware of the range of positions on the matter of smart weapon technology, the following panel provided the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the matter at hand.

The final panel was intended to look at the national, regional, and global legal frameworks that exist or have to be developed in future. A specific focus was put on the role of smart technology in the UN Programme of Action. “The UN has decided to join forces with us in order to use this conference as an input for its assignment,” Ambassador Rolf Nikel underlined in the keynote speech.

Welcome speech Conrad Schetter

Conference agenda





Wolfgang Bindseil with Owen Greene / Abdulmonem Aliwan / Ambassador Rolf Nikel / Anzian Kouadja (f.l.t.r.);

Michael Ashkenazi with Gillian Goh / Conrad Schetter / Marco Kalbusch with Conrad Schetter, Jörg Schönbohm and Detlev Wolter / Marc Kösling with An Vranckx and David Atwood (f.l.t.r.)