Talmannen öppnade Sipris säkerhetspolitiska konferens

Publicerad: 4 oktober 2019 klockan 13.36

Den 3 oktober höll talman Andreas Norlén öppningsanförandet vid tankesmedjan Sipris fjärde säkerhetspolitiska konferens i Stockholm. Temat för konferensen var konflikt och teknologi.

Talmannen talar på Siprikonferens

Talmannen deltog den 3 september på Sipri Stockholm Security Conference. Foto: SIPRI

Talmannens öppningsanförande vid konferensen finns att läsa på engelska

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Madam Under-Secretary-General Nakamitsu, Ambassador Eliasson, Director Smith, Distinguished panellists and speakers, Ladies and gentlemen,

This is the fourth ever Stockholm Security Conference. In Sweden there is a saying that goes: “Once is no time, twice is a habit.” So four times must be an exceptionally good tradition!

As I am a man who cares about traditions, I am honoured to be given the opportunity to open this conference today.

Obviously, I also value the bond between our two institutions. As you are well aware, SIPRI was founded following a decision in the Riksdag. I believe that the decision to establish a peace research institute in Stockholm was made with great foresight, in a time characterised by conflict and the arms race.

Today you have become an organisation of world renown, and a well-respected independent research resource on global security. Unfortunately, the world of today is still a troubled place and maybe more complex than ever before, therefore your work is still very much needed.

Yes, the world around us is complex, and so too is our development.

Ever since the dawn of humanity, we have used our creativity, imagination and innovative capacity to bring about fantastic developments. Our efforts to create ever new ways of dealing with the world and reality around us have been unceasing. Our journey from use and control of fire to invention of the Internet has been an impressive one.

But anyone who dares to open a new door also risks inadvertently opening up a Pandora’s box. Technology and innovations can be exploited for many purposes, and conflict is definitely one of them. Human curiosity and enterprise can be double-edged qualities.

Many developments today are occurring at lightning speed. Just over two million years ago, human beings started to use simple tools made of stone. Other technical leaps in development were taken, for example, when man started to use metals to produce weapons or invented gunpowder in China, some two thousand or so years ago.

But these developments still occurred over a long period of time, especially if we compare them with the technology we will be talking about at this conference. Because in a historical perspective, this technology is very young, to put it mildly.

That is why the theme of this conference is so important. In just a short period, humanity has accomplished staggering developments, and these developments also include – unfortunately – both weapons and conflicts.

Despite all the technology currently at our fingertips, we cannot see beyond the horizon. We have no crystal ball to predict the future or to show us how the next generation’s inventions will be used in conflicts to come.

It is for this very reason that we need knowledge, research and exchange of thoughts and experiences. We need trendspotting and advanced analysis, in order to harness all the opportunities that technology and development give us and create possibilities rather than threats.

The world’s conflicts span a broad spectrum, and conflict patterns in the world have shifted over time. From low-technology conflicts using traditional weapons to highly specialised cyber attacks. From battlefields and trenches to hackers and hybrid warfare. From propaganda dropped from propeller planes to digital disinformation campaigns designed to rip asunder the fabric of society and polarise public debate.

The threats to our security come in various forms, but unfortunately one fact remains: the civilian population and the security of our societies are – as always – in the firing line.

Their security is dependent on us being able, in various ways, to prevent and combat threats, be they from a lorry driven at high speed through a pedestrian precinct, or threats targeting vulnerabilities in our digitally-based financial systems.

Our security is also dependent on our ability to continue to develop technology, and like our forefathers – constantly find new ways to deal with the world around us and our situation, and our ability to make the most of the opportunities offered to us.

I am a lawyer, and as such, it is natural for me to approach questions, including this subject, with an eye to seeing their inherent duality.

Civil technology that promotes peaceful development can also be used for military purposes in conflicts. Technical systems or weapons, though usually heavily guarded, can fall into the hands of terrorists. Social media and the Internet are both the most powerful democratic tools of our times and a means of monitoring people more effectively than the repressive regimes of old times could ever dream of.

An increasing degree of interdependence and interaction between people, organisations, companies and countries creates ties and builds security, but this mutual dependence can at the same time lead to greater vulnerability.

Yes, as you can hear, no one can turn things inside out quite as much as a lawyer!

Throughout history, each step in our development has increased the impact and scope, for example, of new weapon systems. While globalisation brings us closer to each other when it comes to trade or culture, we also know that what happens there also affects us here, for better or worse.

At the same time, transparency and opportunities to monitor developments are also increasing in the remotest of regions. In a changing world, technical developments also make it possible for us to create greater security. Analysis, strategy and foresight are, in other words, common necessities.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When we are speaking of conflict and technology in the future, we inevitably also have to speak about both threats and opportunities.

I mentioned Pandora’s box earlier, and I would like to stress one thing. When, according to mythology, it was opened and all kinds of misfortune spread across the world, one thing nevertheless remained, and that was hope.

And I believe that this hope, together with knowledge and resolve, are our possibility of creating peace and security in the future. As I mentioned, technology and the forms and scope may shift, but the consequences of conflicts and wars remain.

This was eloquently expressed by Robert Graves in the poem The Next War, which reminds us of why we must never stop striving for peace and security:

Wars don’t change except in name;
The next one must go just the same,
And new foul tricks unguessed before
Will win and justify this War.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I bid you a warm welcome to Stockholm! And welcome to an important discussion on Conflict and Technology: Now and in the Future.

Thank you.