Students weigh security implications of emerging tech in new UN workshop series

June 29th, 2020

Technology focused students met online this week to critically assess how emerging technologies could impact peace and security around the world. The students, all enrolled at leading Singaporean Universities, but currently spread across Asia and the Pacific due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, were able to take advantage of the organizer’s pivot to remote workshops and engagement tools.

They were taking part in the launch of the “Responsible Innovation for a Secure Environment” (RISE) Virtual Workshop Series. Organized by the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) and its United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD), this interactive and scenario-based programme encourages tertiary students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to think for themselves about the potentially harmful repercussions of new technologies, the stakeholders involved in their development, and the responsibilities of individuals and organizations.

The introductory sessions drew participants from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Nanyang Technological University, and the National University of Singapore.

Students from three universities met online to learn about the disarmament implications of emerging technologies.

The RISE Virtual Workshop Series came together after the Secretary-General committed in 2018 to “engage and work with scientists, engineers and industry to encourage responsible innovation of science and technology”, and “to ensure its application for peaceful purposes”. Responsible innovation is a key element of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament, “Securing Our Common Future”, and critical to the work of ODA and UNRCPD.

By engaging the next generation of industry leaders, engineers and scientists and equipping young people with tools and frameworks to innovate responsibly, the RISE project is bringing fresh perspectives to complex issues while simultaneously creating and supporting a culture of responsible behaviour, accountability, and adherence to norms, rules and principles for responsible innovation.

Students used online tools like Mentimeter to vote and express their opinions on innovation during the discussions.

The activity is part of the Responsible Innovation for a Secure Environment in Asia and the Pacific (RISE-AP) project, which seeks to build capacities for responsible innovation while highlighting why such innovation is important for fostering development, mitigating security and arms risks, and ensuring the peaceful use of science and technology.

For further information on the Office for Disarmament’s  Responsible Innovation activities please contact Ms. Jane E. Lawson, Peace and Disarmament Education Coordinator for Asia and Pacific, at, and Mr. Charles Ovink, Associate Political Affairs Officer, at