Academics have a role to play in tackling chemical weapon threat

Professor Ulf Schmidt, a Kent expert in the use of poisons in warfare, has urged the international community to establish a new Global Partnership Programme to meet the growing threat of toxic chemical weapon development.

Speaking at a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on 26 June, Professor Schmidt said that the world was changing fast with ‘unconventional use of toxic chemicals and the increasing use of hybrid information warfare’.

Professor Schmidt, of the School of History, said that, rather than looking for simple answers, the international community should ‘embrace complexity and context’.

He argued that it was important to make use of academic expertise to develop new strategies to counter the ‘disinformation’ that now played an increasing role in efforts to influence both public opinion and policy-making.

‘History tells us that knowledge – rather than dividing – can bring communities and nations together,’ said Professor Schmidt. ‘The universities of the world are the ideal place to construct a global network of academics and professionals for a concerted response to current and emerging challenges.’

Professor Schmidt made his presentation at the Fourth Special Session of the Conference of States Parties at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague in The Netherlands.

He is the author of Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments (OUP, 2015), due to be published in paperback in 2018.