VeSPoTec is a regional research network that includes institutes from RWTH Aachen University, Forschungszentrum Jülich, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), it brings together scientists from the natural and social sciences to make a contribution to peace and conflict research. Associated partners include the University of Vienna and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP). The research focus is on verification.
Verification is the process of gathering and analysing information to assess whether other parties comply with their commitments. This way, it allows to build confidence and ensures an effective implementation of international agreements.
For our work in VeSPoTec, we choose as preliminary working definition of verification the following:
Verification is a process (or action) to assess (or demonstrate) compliance with commitments. It comprises “a set of national and cooperative activities, tools, procedures, analytical processes, and fundamentally, judgments” and can be split into two (not strictly independent) parts: (1) acquiring or providing data or evidence, (2) interpreting these data and judging on the others’ commitment to the specific agreement. Typically, the process is cooperative, and all treaty partners agree on the measures.
The uniqueness of the project lies in the collaboration between researchers with different focuses in the natural, social, political and cultural sciences as well as in practice, supported by an advisory board of international experts, the NGO VCDNP and the University of Vienna. This inter- and transdisciplinary work creates a synergy that enables a holistic view of the complex issues of verification and the development of sustainable solutions.
In VeSPoTec, five different work streams work together in an integrated manner. Regular workshops are used to collaborate and communicate effectively. This is a challenging undergoing, as it requires overcoming the barriers of disciplinary boundaries and terminologies.