RWTH: A New Union in Peace Research

The global political situation is increasingly uncertain and unmanageable; this is being demonstrated by the Ukraine crisis, among other things. The situation is characterized by increasing multipolarity, great power rivalry, rapid change and mistrust between states. At the same time, the threat posed by nuclear weapons is still present, with over 13,000 nuclear weapons existing worldwide. With this in mind, RWTH has launched the new research network “Verification in a Complex and Unpredictable World: Social, Political and Technical Processes” (VeSPoTec).

The network is going to be funded for four years by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) as part of the funding program “Strengthening Peace and Conflict Research”. The aim is to establish a new regional center for interdisciplinary peace research. The project is being funded by the BMBF with a total of 3.2 million euros and is being coordinated by the RWTH research group “Nuclear Verification and Disarmament”, which is headed up by Professor Malte Göttsche. Also involved at RWTH are Professor Ralph Rotte, Chair of “International Relations” and Professor Stefan Böschen from RWTH’s Human Technology Center. Other project partners are the Jülich Research Center and the University of Duisburg-Essen.

A team of researchers from the fields of sociology, natural and political sciences is researching confidence-building measures in the nuclear field with the aim of strengthening global security. In particular, this involves the further development of verification procedures. For example, the International Atomic Energy Agency uses these procedures to ensure that no new states are building nuclear weapons. Treaties to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles are based on comprehensive inspection agreements, but these do require further development. This is where the new research project comes in, by further developing technologies such as physical measurement procedures and analytical methods for verification, among other things. Verification is a necessary means to ensure that nuclear weapons are not proliferated and to enable arms control and disarmament, as it verifies compliance with treaties and acts as a way of building confidence. It is based on a complex web of knowledge and trust, in which the influence of political and social boundary conditions is particularly high.

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