United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
Address: Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Stakeholder group: International and regional organisation
Founded in 1980, UNIDIR is a voluntarily funded, autonomous institute within the United Nations. One of the few policy institutes worldwide focusing on disarmament, UNIDIR generates knowledge and promotes dialogue and action on disarmament and security. Based in Geneva, UNIDIR assists the international community to develop the practical, innovative ideas needed to find solutions to critical security problems.
The research areas of UNIDIR’s SecTec focus on cybersecurity, such as threats and vulnerabilities related to information and communications technologies (ICTs), and the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) applications in warfare. SecTec has supported the UN processes on ICTs Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and continues to support the OEWG on security of and in the use of ICTs (2021–2025). It focuses on research and awareness raising on this topic with a broad range of stakeholders and maps the cybersecurity policy landscape.
Digital policy issues
SecTec builds knowledge and raises awareness of the security implications of new and emerging technologies. Cyber stability is one area of focus for UNIDIR, the work of which supports the implementation of specific norms and recommendations previously agreed by member states. It also explores options to strengthen cyber stability and crisis management mechanisms. UNIDIR provides technical and expert advice to the chairpersons of the UN GGE and OEWG on norms, international law, confidence-building measures, capacity building, cooperation, and institutional dialogue. The annual Cyber Stability Conference brings various stakeholders together to promote a secure and stable cyberspace and in particular the role of the UN processes such as the OEWG on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (2021–2025).
Launched in 2019, the Cyber Policy Portal is an interactive map of the global cyber policy landscape. It provides profiles of the cyber policies of all 193 UN member states, in addition to various intergovernmental organizations and multi-stakeholder instruments and other initiatives. This confidence-building tool supports informed participation by relevant stakeholders in all policy processes and promotes trust, transparency, and cooperation in cyberspace. The updated version of the portal was launched in May 2022, providing several new features, such as full text search, and is available in all UN official languages.
Accessible from the portal, the National Survey of Implementation of United Nations Recommendations of Responsible Use of ICTs by States in the Context of International Security collates national take-up of the recommendations from the 2015 GGE report, with a view to assisting assessment of their further development and implementation. The survey allows UN member states to conduct regular self-assessments of national implementation of the recommendations.
It can also support UN member states in responding to an invitation from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to continue to inform the Secretary-General of their views and assessments on the issue of developments in the field of ICTs in the context of international security.
It supports transparency, information sharing, and confidence building by giving UN member states the possibility of making the results of the survey publicly available on their national profiles on UNIDIR’s Cyber Policy Portal.
The Cyber Policy Portal Database provides direct access to documents and references through the profiles of all 193 UN member states on the Cyber Policy Portal. The database allows searching across several categories, including state, type of document, topic, issuing body, and more.
- 2021 Cyber Stability Conference Report
- Enhancing Cooperation to Address Criminal and Terrorist Use if ICTs
- Non-Escalatory Attribution of International Cyber-Incidents: Facts, International Law and Politics
- Due Diligence in Cyberspace: Normative Expectations of Reciprocal Protection of International Legal Rights
- International Cyber Operations: National Doctrines and Capabilities Research Paper Series
- ICTs, International Security, And Cybercrime
- Applying Chapters VI and VII of the Charter of The United Nations in the Cyber Context
- International Cooperation to Mitigate Cyber Operations Against Critical Infrastructure
- 2020 Cyber Stability Conference Report
- Electronic and Cyber Warfare in Outer Space
- Supply Chain Security in the Cyber Age: Sector Trends, Current Threats and Multi-Stakeholder ResponsesLimiter L’utilisation à des Fins Malveillantes des Menaces et Vulnérabilités Dans Les Tic [Limit the Malicious Use of Threats and Vulnerabilities In ICT]
- Stemming the Exploitation of ICT Threats and Vulnerabilities
- Fact Sheet – Gender in Cyber Diplomacy
- Cyber Stability Conference 2019 Report: Strengthening Global Engagement
- Innovations Dialogue 2019 Report The Role of Regional Organizations in Strengthening
- Cybersecurity and Stability
- 2022 Cyber Stability Conference: Protecting Critical
- Infrastructure and Services Across Sectors
- International Cyber Crisis Management Regional Workshop Series
- National Survey of Implementation of United Nations Recommendations on Responsible Use of ICTs by States in the Context of International Security
- Open-Ended Working Group Cyber 201: Framework Recap
- 2021 Cyber Stability Conference: Towards a More Secure Cyberspace
- ICTs, International Security, and Cybercrime: Understanding Their Intersection for Better Policy Making
- Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue: Enhancing International Cooperation Mechanisms for Cybercrime And Cyberterrorism Investigations
- Political, Technical and Legal Aspects of Attribution: Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on the Norms of Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace
- Applying Chapters VI and VII of the United Nations Charter in the Cyber Context
- Due Diligence in Cyberspace: Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on the Norms of Responsible State Behavior
- 2020 Cyber Stability Conference: Exploring The Future of Institutional Dialogue
- 2019 Innovations Dialogue Annual Conference
- 2019 Cyber Stability Conference: Strengthening Global Engagement
- The 2nd International Security Cyber Issues Workshop Series: The Role of Regional Organizations in Strengthening Cybersecurity and Stability
- Implementing Cyber Norms: National Experiences and Emerging Good Practices
- Unidir Side Event: Supply Chain Security in the Digital Age
- Multilateral Responses to Cyber Security Challenges: A Conversation with the chairs of the UN GGE and the OEWG
- Operationalizing Cyber Norms: Critical Infrastructure Protection
- Geneva Peace Week: Legal and Humanitarian Challenges in the Age of Cyber Conflict
- Presentation to the FirstSsession of the OWEG on Regular Institutional Dialogue
- Historical Briefing on the GGE Process for the GGEInformal Consultations – 5 December 2019 (Part 1& Part 2)
- The 2nd International Security Cyber Issues Workshop Series – Preserving and Enhancing
- International Cyber Stability: Regional Realities and Approaches
- The UN, Cyberspace and International Peace and Security
AI and the weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies is one of UNIDIR’s current research areas. It aims to raise awareness and build capacities of various stakeholders, including member states, technical communities, academia, and the private sector. Research on AI covers a broad range of topics from human decision-making, autonomous vehicles, and swarm technologies.
UNIDIR SecTec is currently developing the Artificial Intelligence Portal. This tool will gather available information at the national, regional, and international levels on policies, processes, and structures that are relevant to the development and use of AI for military or security purposes. The portal will be developed to support transparency, information sharing, and confidence building in the field of AI.
- UNIDIR on Lethal Autonomous Weapons
- Table-Top Exercises on the Human Element and Autonomous Weapons System
- Known Unknowns: Data Issues and Military Autonomous Systems
- The Black Box, Unlocked
- Modernizing Arms Control
- Swarm Robotics: Technical and Operational Overview of the Next Generation of Autonomous Systems
- The Human Element in Decisions About the Use of Force
- The Role of Data in Algorithmic Decision-Making
- Framing Discussions on the Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies
- Increasing Transparency, Oversight and Accountability of Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
- Change in the Air: Disruptive Developments in UAV Technology
- Towards Ethically Driven Robotics and Automation Systems
- Predictability and Understandability in Lethal Autonomous Weapons
- Capturing Technology: Rethinking Arms Control. The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Cyber Operations
- Webinar Series on the Technological, Military and Legal Aspects of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems
- Predictability and Understandability in Military AI
- The Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies: Future Scenarios
UNIDIR’s research equally focuses on security dimensions of innovations in science and technology. In synergy with the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament and recent UNGA resolutions on the role of science and technology in the context of international security, UNIDIR proactively identifies and examines emerging and over-the-horizon innovations. It analyses potential implications for international security and facilitates dialogue among relevant stakeholders to encourage cross-sector cooperation.
- Exploring the Use of Technology for Remote Ceasefire Monitoring Aad Verification
- 2021 Innovations Dialogue Conference Report
- Exploring Distributed Ledger Technology for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation: A Primer
- Exploring Science and Technology Review Mechanisms Under the Biological Weapons Convention
- 2020 Innovations Dialogue Conference Report
- Advances in Science and Technology in the Life Sciences
- Magnifying Nanomaterials
- Virtual Launch of the Technology and Ceasefires Publication: Exploring the Use of Technology for Remote Ceasefire Monitoring and Verification
- Directed Energy Weapons: The ‘new’ Option for Militaries
- 2021 Innovations Dialogue: Deepfakes, Trust and International Security
- Drones and Counter-Drone Technology: An Escalating Dynamic
- New Technological Opportunities to Bolster Treaty Compliance
- Innovations in Life Sciences2020 Innovations Dialogue: Life Sciences, International Security and Disarmament
- Scientific and Technological Responses to Pandemics: Drawing Parallels Between International Security and Public Health
- National survey of implementation of United Nations recommendations on responsible use of ICTs by states in the context of international security
- Cyber Policy Portal Database
- Artificial Intelligence Portal (to be launched)
- Biological Weapons Convention National Implementation Measures Database (to be launched): Over the last two decades, many initiatives designed to reduce biological risks have emerged at the international, regional, local, and institutional levels, including risk assessment mechanisms, codes of conduct, dual-use education, and voluntary peer review initiatives. It is unclear what happened to many of these measures or indeed whether they worked. To take stock of these earlier risk-reduction measures and build an evidence base to inform the development of future measures, UNIDIR will develop a virtual repository of these risk mitigation measures, complete with insights around lessons learned from these instruments.
- Space Security Portal (to be launched): Space policies and doctrines are evolving rapidly as more states articulate their perspectives and approaches to addressing space security. Building on the success of the Institute’s Cyber Policy Portal, UNIDIR will develop and sustain a Space Security Portal to serve as a one-stop online hub for materials on the space security policies of key stakeholders, including states and regional organizations.