Research Association for Science, Disarmament and International Security
What is FONAS?
FONAS stands for Forschungsverbund Naturwissenschaft, Abrüstung und internationale Sicherheit (Research Association for Science, Disarmament and International Security). FONAS has emerged from the collaboration of interdisciplinary research groups which had been founded – with start-up funding from the Volkswagen Foundation –since 1988 at the universities of Bochum, Bremen, Darmstadt, Hamburg and Kiel. The goal was, and still is, to provide solution to the prevailing deficit in scientific work on disarmament and peace issues in Germany. In order to strengthen cooperation and public visibility, FONAS was established on March 21, 1996 at the Physics Centre of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (German Physical Society) as a registered association with seat in Hamburg. This led to the creation of a vital collaborative network of several research institutions such as the Research Centre Jülich as well as the research institutes in Frankfurt and Hamburg in tackling the issues about the relationship or linkage of peace and technology.
Objectives of FONAS
The goal of FONAS is to promote scientific work on issues of disarmament, international security and international peace using methods from mathematics, natural or engineering science - taking into account multidisciplinary approaches - in research, in teaching and in public dissemination of knowledge.
Scientific methods and knowledge have been used for weapons development and warfare (especially since World War II to a great extent). Also after the end of the Cold War, research and development for military purposes have hardly slowed down. Due to the high significance of science and technology for security and peace policy, scientific analyses for disarmament and peace continue to be indispensable. Communicating the outcome with politicians and with the public is of crucial importance. Such research cannot be viewed as firmly established in Germany, unfortunately. As a professional scientific association, FONAS wants to lay the basis for a better perspective and acceptance of such research in Germany and in Europe.
This includes, for example, the assessment of the consequences of new weapons technologies, the analysis of militarily relevant developments in research and technology, the comparison of various options for disarmament, the creation of treaty proposals, and the research and development of new verification methods. While this kind of research has tradition and function in the USA since decades, the same has hardly been established in Germany.
Methods and Fields of Research
Contributions to issues of disarmament, arms limitation and non-proliferation are developed in multidisciplinary projects using mathematical and scientific methods. Methods are, for example, theoretical and computer-based calculations, experiments in the laboratory and on site, mathematical modelling and other procedures. The anchoring in the respective discipline, political relevance and interdisciplinary quality require intensive communication and collaborative work relationships. Priorities include:
- Early detection and containment of technological arms races and modernisation programmes
- Development of verification methods and concepts
- Analysis of civil-military ambivalence of scientific and technological developments
- Modelling of complex systems in the field of international security
- Proposals for disarmament and arms limitations
- Concept development related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
- Conversion of military high technology and the elimination of past pollution
- Relationships between global environmental change and international security