Belgium hosts the 15th Annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

22-23 October 2019 in Brussels

  • 22 Oct. 2019 - 23 Oct. 2019
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  • Last updated 25-Oct-2019 12:58

Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation are at a crossroads. Non-proliferation norms have been eroded by the use of chemical weapons by states and non-state actors, and by missile proliferation that flouts the will of the international community. The arms control regime that has supported both conventional and nuclear security for decades is undermined by a dangerous pattern of state non-compliance, particularly Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the bedrock of nuclear arms control for fifty years, has also been challenged by growing calls for unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Against this complex backdrop, NATO Allies, partners, and international organizations will meet in Brussels for the 15th Annual NATO WMD Conference, hosted by the Government of Belgium. More than 100 participants from nearly 50 countries, and the United Nations, European Union, and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, will explore these critical issues and the role NATO plays in addressing them. Participants will include leading experts in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as top officials, including Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ambassadors and Directors-General.

  • The conference will address four themes:
  • The 2020 NPT Review Conference, including NATO’s role in ensuring its success.
  • Overcoming the political, legal and technical challenges to disarmament.
  • Addressing missile threats.
  • NATO’s role in the future of Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

The conference will be chaired by William Alberque, Director of the Arms Control, Disarmament and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre at NATO, with opening remarks by NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, Bettina Cadenbach. The keynote will be delivered by Mr. Axel Kenes, Director General for Multilateral Affairs and Globalization of the Belgian Foreign Ministry.

The WMD Conference will be followed by a high-level public event in the afternoon of 23 October, where NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will speak and take questions on NATO’s role in arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. The public event will also include a panel discussion with arms control experts.

Last year’s conference was the most successful to date, with more than 100 participants from over 50 countries. Participants included then-Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller as keynote speaker; then-Assistant Secretary General Alejandro Alvargonzález as chairman; former Assistant to the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu, and Icelandic Permanent Secretary of State Sturla Sigurjónsson. This year, the 40th anniversary of NATO’s “Dual-Track” Decision, is another opportunity to reflect upon NATO’s efforts, and the Secretary General’s speech will set out the Alliance’s priorities and next steps for arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation.

Previous NATO WMD Conferences have been held in Rome (2004), Sofia (2005), Vilnius (2007), Berlin (2008), Warsaw (2009), Prague (2010), Bergen (2011), Budapest (2012), Split (2013), Interlaken (2014), Qatar (2015), Ljubljana (2016), and Helsinki (2017).