Our experts focus on four areas.
Nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons threaten the existence of our planet and all life on it. These weapons continue to be a cornerstone of national security policy for many states—even those that do not directly possess them. Within NATO, a self-declared nuclear-weapon military alliance of which Canada is a member, a nuclear-weapon state can makeits weapons available to other alliance members. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which all NATO members are party, entered into force in 1970 but has been unsuccessful in eliminating nuclear weapons. Project Ploughshares actively monitors developments related to the NPT. Working with international civil society organizations, Project Ploughshares participated actively in the development of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force in 2021. Canada has not acceded to this treaty, nor have any members of NATO. Ploughshares urges Canada to join this new treaty and to be more active in creating the conditions for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, especially within NATO.
Irresponsible arms transfers catalyze war and erode human security. The mass trade in conventional weapons -ranging from small arms to fighter aircraft and the components that comprise them - increases the likelihood and length of armed conflict and contributes to the severity of the violence. Conventional arms controls aim to regulate the import and export of weapons systems and mitigate the negative effects of their proliferation. Project Ploughshares conducts research and advocates to strengthen government compliance with national and multilateral arms control regimes, including the Arms Trade Treaty. Project Ploughshares serves as a member of the steering board of the Control Arms coalition, while also participating in other civil society coalitions in Canada and abroad.A key focus of our work involves monitoring and reporting on Canada’s production and export of military goods. To support this effort, we maintain the Canadian Military Industry Database (CMID)which compiles publicly available records of military contracts awarded toCanadian companies, as well as annual government reports of arms exports to foreign states. Reports from the database are made available to a range of researchers, organizations, and media.
Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, additive manufacturing, and sensor-based technologies are transforming warfare and posing new challenges for arms control and disarmament efforts. Human rights advocates also believe that the collection and sharing of personal data by governments and industry could lead to a “global surveillance catastrophe.” Autonomous weapons – weapons systems that can select and engage targets with no significant human intervention – have been called the “third revolution in warfare after gunpowder and nuclear arms.” Without regulation, these weapons pose serious risks to global stability.Project Ploughshares is a leader in researching emerging military technologies and in advocating for the regulation and restriction of certain systems, including fully autonomous weapons. Ploughshares works independently and as a member of coalitions to encourage conversation, analysis, and regulation of AI-enhanced technologies that have an impact on human and global security.
The growing web of communications links and data flows that connect satellites in outer space with Earth is essential to our daily lives. We rely on that web for everything: banking, transportation, communications, weather forecasting, agriculture, mining, electricity grids, the Internet, and military and national security.But future use of these capabilities is far from guaranteed. Outer space is a fragile environment threatened by military capabilities and technological mishap, but still largely unregulated. Project Ploughshares works independently, with governments, and with other civil society organizations, to raise awareness of the challenges facing outer space security; to encourage the adoption of policies that enhance safety and sustainability, while preventing weapons and warfighting in space; and to build support for multilateral instruments as the basis for the fair and effective governance of outer space activities.