The Remote Warfare Programme (initially the Remote Control Project) was set up in 2013 to examine a global trend towards “remote warfare.” That is, the trend where states like the UK engaged abroad by supporting local and regional forces to do the bulk of frontline fighting against perceived threats instead of deploying large numbers of their own forces.
Seven years later, it is with great sadness that we announce ORG will cease operations at the end of this year. For the Remote Warfare Programme, this means the research will move to Saferworld under a new name to reflect our new approach: the Security Policy Change Project.
We are incredibly proud of everything we have achieved. In its time, the Programme has achieved significant impact, despite being a small team and having continued financial constraints:
- We have pushed for effective oversight of the UK’s use of remote warfare, especially of its special forces. As well as targeted advocacy with senior political and military decision makers, we have written three hard-hitting reports, several policy briefings and many blogs on the topic. This has had an impressive impact on the debate in the UK.
- We have used our unique access to bring together voices from the NGO, military, academic and government communities to build diverse constituencies for change. Using closed-door roundtables to build trust between organisations across a spectrum of opinions has been at the forefront of our approach.
- We have used our research to go to those with the power to change policy and highlight the dangers of the current approach, briefing senior political and military decision makers in the UK and elsewhere about the dangers of the current approach. This has included the three main political parties in the UK Parliament; the Ministry of Defence; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Stabilisation Unit, the Cabinet Office; the British Army (both regular forces and Special Forces); the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (the MOD’s official think tank); and a number of civil society and academic conferences.
Our work has shifted the boundaries of mainstream political discourse; now key stakeholders with the power to change policy (including opposition parties, the ICRC, NATO and the UN) frequently call on national governments to recognise the dangerous and distinct risks of remote warfare for civilian protection and long-term stability.
However, while it is a sad time for everyone at ORG, the work will continue, and it is now more important than ever. The Security Policy Change Project will, with the very kind support from Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, join Saferworld’s Global Policy and Advocacy team, and pursue three key objectives:
- Ensure that civil societies and parliaments – including those in conflict-affected countries – have the capacity, information and mandate to scrutinise military interventions and their aftermaths.
- Ensure that the UK Government and military determine success in terms of the positive impact of operations on long-term stability and peace settlements, rather than short-term UK interests.
- Ensure that UK foreign and security policy focusses on the protection of civilians.
Saferworld will allow the project to better pursue our objectives. Building on our strengths, and the huge expertise and experience of Saferworld, the project will be even better placed to bring together a diverse group of experts, and address short-term policy making, insufficient transparency and accountability, and the failure to prioritise the protection of civilians.