Newsletter April 2015

Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign


(if you can spare a moment, kindly forward this to interested colleagues)

This is the fifth Newsletter of our campaign. The newsletter comes out periodically. Because your time is valuable, the newsletter is brief. You don’t need to keep this – all editions are available on the website


The Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign aims to reduce death and injury in warfare (and other conflicts) by using non-damaging technology (more info on the website).


The year 2015 is a very good year to move forward our campaign to replace the obsolete technology of lethal weapons. We’re calling it “The Year of Committing to Nonlethal Technology in War”.

It’s similar to the global campaign for sustainable energy. Lethal warfare has become unsustainable and lethal weapons, like fossil fuels, are becoming obsolete. We can compare our current guns and bombs to coal-fired power stations. They served a purpose but are now outdated and dangerous and must be replaced.

We can also compare today’s nonlethal security devices – for example stun guns – to the primitive solar panels and storage batteries of 30 years ago. Today, the world has made a commitment to sustainable energy. Germany generates some thirty per cent of its energy needs from sustainable technology. Electric cars were a major attraction at the 2015 Motor Show in Detroit, heartland of the internal combustion engine. Almost every week brings news of cheaper and better green energy technology.

See our January 2015 Media Release.


Moving from lethal to nonlethal security technology will be a major change in human behaviour. It will require what’s sometimes called a paradigm shift.

The better known paradigm shift is the move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources. If we don’t make that move quite soon higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause increased melting of ice sheets, major rises in sea-levels and more acidic oceans, not to mention higher air temperatures. This process may already be underway, evidenced by changing rainfall patterns, more extreme weather and reduced biodiversity in the oceans. The reduction in food supplies in such areas as sub-Saharan Africa may be one of the factors that are increasing tribal tensions and the flow of refugees.

Trying to contain such global unrest with conventional lethal weapons will raise the level of violence and is likely to inflame the disadvantaged. Nuclear terrorism could well be an outcome. The shift to nonlethal security can help the other necessary transition – to a more sustainable, egalitarian and less extractive world.


A symposium on non-lethal weapons is held in Europe every two years. The next European Symposium is scheduled for later this year – 18-20 May 2015 in Ettlingen (near Frankfurt) Germany. The theme for the symposium will be “to examine the obstacles still faced in fielding non-lethal technologies: assessment of effectiveness and safety, legal hurdles, public opinion objections (and) operators’ trust.” For more details, including the conference program, go to .


Better to have no lethal weapons at all – but we might at least reduce the damage if they fall into the wrong hands:

“When Islamic State militants overran northern Iraq late last year they captured enough weapons and equipment from fleeing Iraqi forces to supply three combat divisions. Could remotely operated kill switch technology on weapons stop the same thing happening in future?… Harvard University law professor Jonathan Zittrain (has an idea)…‘I was reflecting on the fact that companies like Apple have implemented kill switches for iPhones,’ …‘If somebody boosts the phone from you, all is not lost. You can remotely disable it using your own Apple credentials to make it a much less enticing target to steal…

‘My thought was that if this was good enough for iPhones, why wouldn’t [weapon] supplying nations and Iraq itself want to be able to turn stuff off from afar rather than have it used against them, as it was to capture the Mosul Dam.’

Thank you to Anthony Funnell, producer of ABC Radio’s Future Tense and Andrew Davies, ABC online producer, for this. For the full story go to: .

US Non-lethal Weapons Program

The US Defense Force’s Non-lethal Weapons Program is the largest organisation currently involved with nonlethal security technology. It  reports through the Commandant of the US Marine Corps (see The program develops nonlethal technology and runs a variety of training courses for US forces and overseas partners. (There are a number of videos on the website showing NLWs in action).

Recommended reading

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein (Penguin, Melbourne 2014). Naomi Klein’s latest book includes a highly researched but to easy-to-read summary of the factors that are leading us to global warming. She argues that our current economic model cannot resolve the problems.  A different economic approach offers the opportunity to reverse global warming and also improve the quality of life for everyone across the world. Lethal conflict is barely mentioned, if at all, but its presence is implicit in the world which will result if we don’t change our ways.

In our backyard

Like many police forces around the world NSW police carry handguns while on duty. Unfortunately all too often they have shot dead disturbed but otherwise innocent citizens. Early in February a young woman with Asperger’s syndrome was noticed wandering the streets of Sydney carrying kitchen knife. She was surrounded by several police who tried to ‘subdue’ her with capsicum spray and a Taser. A police officer then shot her dead.

Only a few weeks later, at the beginning of March, police shot dead a man on the Central Coast of NSW, apparently involved in a ‘domestic dispute’. Circumstances of this incident are still unclear, but there have been no reports that the victim had a gun.

It seems that Tasers and capsicum spray sometimes don’t work – which is of course an issue – but there were certainly many other non-lethal options available to the police.

Questions and Comments

Questions and comments to .

Contributions to the Newsletter Invited

We are inviting contributions to the next (and following) newsletter(s) on the topic of nonlethal security/nonlethal weapons. These might include reports of new research, field experiences, upcoming events and general comments. Please keep them brief (a few hundred words) with contact details for further information, if appropriate. Send to .

That’s all for the moment.

The Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign Newsletter – APRIL 2015


Editor – Andrew Greig 

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