Next week the United Nations Secretary General will convene the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in New York City.
Despite its many strengths, the current global governance system regarding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) suffers several important weaknesses. One is the deadlock in institutional processes that often impedes progress in reducing WMD risks.
Impasses over the Middle East WMD free zone concept have long contributed to such deadlock, impeding progress toward the full ambitions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Unfortunately the November 18-22, 2019, UN conference in New York appears unlikely to substantially alter this current reality.
Today CSR released a new report on this and other core issues in WMD governance. Weapons of Mass Destruction: The State of Global Governance Amid Rising Threats & Emerging Opportunities examines the most important strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in current international norms and institutions that focus on WMD threats, and offers ideas for bolstering this system.
It is a pivotal time to explore these issues, as WMD remain a daunting international security challenge. These threats have long been growing more complex, and in recent years norms regarding their possession and use have been weakening.
The report details several recommendations to help address these trends. They include adapting to the growing convergence in WMD threats and solutions, getting creative in learning and bridge-building among stakeholders in order to drive stronger leadership on WMD, telling success stories of WMD elimination and risk mitigation, focusing on specific WMD capabilities that may create new areas of cooperation, and generally being unafraid to test bold new ideas.
In an inspiring foreword by Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü (CSR Senior Advisor and Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons from 2010-2018), he reminds us that we have a strong history of WMD elimination and threat reduction to build on. As he writes:
“For further progress, we must work together among all stakeholders: those in government, science, industry, civil society, and international organizations. Raising awareness regarding WMD threats and opportunities, especially among younger generations, will be critical to ensuring the continued integrity and credibility of international norms. This report makes the case for why this is so important to international security, and offers practical ideas for how we can work together to continue building on the strong history of progress against WMD threats.”
Reducing systemic risks in the 21st Century will require concerted work against WMD threats. Read the full report here for more about the state of WMD governance and norms, and ideas for driving progress in this area.