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CBRN National Action Plans: Rising to the Challenges of International Security and the Emergence of Artificial Intelligence

United Nations Headquarters, New York -

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) National Action Plans: Rising to the Challenges of International Security and the Emergence of Artificial Intelligence

7 October 2015, United Nations Headquarters, New York

The Permanent Mission of Georgia in cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) organized the Side-event “Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) National Action Plans: Rising to the Challenges of International Security and the Emergence of Artificial Intelligence.”

Managing CBRN risks of criminal, accidental or natural origin is an increasingly difficult and complex challenge and requires a very high level of co-operation and co-ordination both between different national agencies and among countries and international and regional organizations. It entails the application of a holistic approach through which all stakeholders, while operating autonomously, can establish common goals and identify and manage resources to achieve them; clearly allocate responsibilities and tasks; elaborate functioning channels of communication; create a security culture based on common learning; and ensure that lessons learned are incorporated and absorbed throughout the whole system.

An excellent example of such a holistic approach is the European Union CBRN Centres of Excellence Risk Mitigation Initiative. Funded by the European Union, the Initiative is implemented by the European Commission and UNICRI. The Initiative is developed with the technical support of relevant international and regional organisations (such as IAEA, OPCW, BWC ISU, 1540 Committee, WHO), the EU Member States and other stakeholders, through coherent and effective cooperation at the national, regional and international level.

The Initiative involves more than 50 countries and has been launched in 8 different regions of the world namely: African Atlantic Façade; Central Asia; Eastern and Central Africa; Gulf Cooperation Council Countries; Middle East; North Africa and Sahel; South East Asia; South East and Eastern Europe. Regional Secretariats have been established in Algeria, Georgia, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.

One of the most important results of the initiative is the production of National Action Plans for CBRN risk mitigation that are adopted by the partner country and pave the way for tangible reduction in risk. Developed by the CBRN National Teams of the partner Countries in coordination with relevant international organizations, the plans articulate a national vision of safety and security and identify a set of priorities to strengthen national CBRN capacity.

Georgia is the first country to develop and adopt a CBRN National Action Plan with the support of UNICRI. Now, Georgia is striving to support other countries by sharing its experience in developing and adopting this strategically important document.

The side-event also featured a briefing aimed at enhancing awareness of the current and likely future capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous robotics. This technology has potentially far-reaching implications, changing the dynamic of security and security governance. Promoting a comprehensive understanding is a critical first step in ensuring a responsible development and mitigating potential future misuse. Such technology has considerable appeal for terrorist organisations or other non-state actors who wish to exploit CBRN materials, most particularly given the potential value of autonomous systems as delivery mechanisms. Relying on its expertise in the field of CBRN risk mitigation, UNICRI, through its new programme on the security implications of artificial intelligence and robotics, will seek to prompt consideration of the risks raised by present-day and potential future AI and robotics technologies.

During the meeting, which was attended by 130 participants from more then 65 countries, Ms. Cindy Smith, Director of UNICRI, said: “Human progress has created unprecedented opportunities with an equal potential of being wisely or improperly exploited. We have a collective responsibility to prevent the deliberate misuse of new breakthroughs. These complex threats are not confinable to a single state: in this area no country, no region can advance and play safe in isolation. The threats we are addressing are globalized and involve unpredictable consequences, for this reason countries have paradoxically to look beyond their own borders to guarantee the security of their citizens. By developing a common security vision, sharing knowledge and expertise we can make the most of advances in technologies and reduce our vulnerabilities. Even in difficult times, we have to remind ourselves that only through dialogue, mutual trust and cooperation we can improve our world.”

Side-Event Video - United Nations Webcast