2020-2021: The RUSI Year in Review and the Year Ahead

 Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies

2020 Highlights

Our analysis covered: Tackling Crime in Free Trade ZonesSanctions After BrexitA Risk-Based Approach to Terrorist FinancingReframing Beneficial Ownership Disclosures and Financial Crime in E-Commerce.

We provided Parliamentary evidence on UK Freeports, UK Sanctions, UK Economic Crime and Right-wing Extremist Financing, and evidence to Canada's Cullen Commission.

We conducted 25 capacity-building workshops for thousands of officials worldwide; two global surveys with ACAMS; and 22 webinars with over 42,800 attendees. Season 2 of our podcast, the Suspicious Transaction Report reached audiences in over 125 countries.

2021 Agenda 

In 2021 we are planning further work on the threats and opportunities of new technologies, with a focus on artificial intelligence, a report on digital financial inclusion, a survey with ACAMS on digital identity, tracking the UK's progress on the Economic Crime Plan and further research on sanctions and terrorist financing.

We'll be continuing our training, including a new project that aims to tackle financial crime in its first mile. And don’t miss Season 3 of the Suspicious Transaction Report!

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 Cyber Security

2020 Highlights

RUSI Cyber has published five principles for the future UK cyber security strategy and continued to shape the UK Government’s agenda as it designs the 2021 National Cyber Security Strategy. Our project on Globalisation of Technology was cited in Prospect magazine’s Think Tank of the Year award for Medicine, Science and Technology. The judges stated that our research pushed ‘the frontiers of both technology and international relations.’ We framed the conversation on 5G cyber risk management approaches, reacted to the ongoing 5G debate, and supported the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into 5G vendor diversity

In addition, the team has worked with colleagues from the Organised Crime and Financial Crime research teams to publish an interim report on the policy challenges relating to the UK’s response to cyber fraud. RUSI Cyber has also published an emerging insights paper on the challenges facing the cyber insurance industry, and is starting to look at policy options to tackle the scourge of ransomware. Finally, we held high-profile events during a turbulent and newsworthy year for cyber security.

2021 Agenda

In early 2021, we will publish further research on future UK cyber security strategy, tackling cyber fraud, and cyber insurance. The team will primarily focus on issues relating cyber strategy, cyber resilience, and offensive cyber. This will include focusing on cyber risk to specific areas of critical national infrastructure and persistent threats such as ransomware.

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 Defence, Industries and Society

2020 Highlights

2020 was a busy year focused on publications including three Occasional Papers on Technology: “The Challenge of Change: Acquiring Technologies for Defence in the UK”, the Tempest Programme – “Gambling Responsibly and the UK Tempest Programme: Experiences, Risks and Opportunities” and the higher management of defence – “Management of Defence After the Levene Reforms: What Comes Next?”. There were a number of short-notice Commentaries reacting to external developments concerning defence management in the public and private sector. Professor Taylor also gave several external presentations including giving oral and written evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee inquiry on defence industrial strategy. 

2021 Agenda

Defence, Industries and Society envisage a busy 2021. As well as reacting to the Governmental Defence Industrial Strategy paper linked to the Integrated Review, we intend to explore the consequences of the departure of the UK for defence industry and the agenda for international equipment collaboration with Europeans and beyond. An analysis of developments in the shipbuilding sector is planned as is an examination of roles of the public and private sector in the exploitation of Artificial Intelligence in defence. Both these latter topics will build on work already done within the programme. 

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 International Security Studies

2020 Highlights

To map the far-reaching changes to the global order witnessed in 2020, the International Security Studies team launched the International Security in Transformation initiative including the creation of new regional security programmes: Unpacking the MENA, Navigating the Indo-Pacific, Russia and the World, and Africa in Perspective.

2021 Agenda

In 2021 the ISS team will present a series of events and publications that pull together the initiative’s various regional perspectives to map and better understand the patterns of competition between key security actors, as the new US Presidential Administration sets out its approach to the fast-changing developments around the world.

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 Military Sciences

2020 Highlights

We delivered the Martial Power Programme and commenced the Profession of Arms series featuring the Western Way of War podcast and Adversarial Studies project. The Modern Deterrence project delivered on its ambition to raise societal resilience to the top of the security agenda, being included in NATO Reflections and UK’s Integrated Review publications. Our work is driving the defence agenda. 

2021 Agenda

We will continue to examine the evolving character of modern conflict, publishing, informing and convening events, starting a new programme on “The Rules of Future Conflict”, and expand the Profession of Arms with a new multimedia project. Upcoming publications include: “National Security Structures”, “Maximising the Utility of Aviation”, and exciting new work on “The Future of the NATO Corps”. 

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 Organised Crime and Policing

2020 Highlights

We continued to deliver our two EU-funded programmes - CORMS and CRIMSON - developed a range of activities combatting the illegal wildlife trade across three continents, and commenced three innovative fraud and economic crime projects due for completion and publication of findings in early 2021. In addition, we launched our Technology, Surveillance and Intelligence Policy (TSIP) focussed on emerging technologies and national security.

2021 Agenda

In 2021 we will continue the delivery of our EU-funded work and remain at the forefront of global financial crime responses to IWT by maintaining our influence at national, regional and international policy levels. We also plan to expand our portfolio of work in Latin America, build on our research on the intersection between climate change and serious organised crime, and to develop the TSIP projects.

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 Proliferation and Nuclear Policy

2020 Highlights

Project Sandstone has used satellite imagery and network analysis to expose North Korea-related sanctions busting in China and elsewhere. We have also started a major project with RUSI’s ISS team on Iranian nuclear futures. In addition, we have taken a close look at the struggles of the UK’s own nuclear weapons programme, and celebrated the  tenth anniversary of the UK Project on Nuclear Issues.

2021 Agenda

In the coming year we’ll be doing more work on UK nuclear weapons issues, particularly the new warhead programme and the conditions for the UK’s entry into multilateral arms control; we’ll be publishing analyses of North Korea’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes, and of its proliferation networks; and our research on Iranian nuclear issues will likewise start to bear fruit.

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 Terrorism and Conflict

2020 Highlights

We have published detailed research on the effectiveness and evaluation of programmes to prevent or combat violent extremism (P/CVE). We have looked at the role of gender in such programmes and how it has been affected by the Covid-19. We also revealed how the pandemic has been handled by al-Shabaab and how the coronavirus has highlighted existing inequalities. Analysis also covered how this global crisis has amplified far-right extremism and created an enabling environment.

2021 Agenda

We are looking to build on RUSI’s expertise to explore how Counter-Terrorism frameworks and P/CVE programming can be adapted or reimagined to counter far-right extremism and other terrorist threats. We will also be expanding our focus on conflict studies, for example looking into the relationships between criminality, extremism, and wider conflict ecosystems, and examining the dynamics of transitional justice and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration processes.

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