NATO and partners examine non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament

  • Last updated: 22 Jun. 2011 12:40

The seventh annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation was hosted this year by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bergen on 16 and 17 June. The event brought together senior officials from countries on four continents as well as from international organizations and academic institutions.

We must engage partner countries, other international organizations, and the strategic community at large,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, addressing the event in a video message. “We have to replace the old mind-set of mistrust and misunderstanding with a new culture of consultation and cooperation.”

He explained that at the Lisbon Summit last November, Allies agreed on a number of measures to better respond to the growing number of countries and non-state actors that are seeking WMD or the means to deliver them.

Presentations and panel discussions allowed open and in-depth informal debate on four general themes:

  • The future of multilateral non-proliferation regimes and initiatives;
  • Current regional proliferation threats and challenges;
  • Terrorism and WMD proliferation;
  • NATO’s contribution to international efforts in the area of WMD arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

The conference was opened by Norwegian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Espen Barth Eide and NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, Ambassador Gábor Iklódy.

State Secretary Eide advised the audience to keep the big picture in mind when addressing new security challenges in areas where the international community has limited experience.

Ambassador Iklódy said that the proliferation landscape is becoming ever more complex and it is therefore essential to create an international climate that would make states feel more secure and dampen their ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Participants came from NATO Allies and partner nations across the globe, including from the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and Asia.

This was the first conference of its kind to be held since NATO adopted its new Strategic Concept at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010. The new Strategic Concept highlights “cooperative security” as one of NATO’s core tasks, stating that the Alliance will engage in enhancing international security through partnership with relevant countries and other international organizations and by contributing actively to arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.

Previous events on the challenges of WMD proliferation were held in Rome (2004), Sofia (2005), Vilnius (2007), Berlin (2008), Warsaw (2009), and Prague (2010).