Updated: 05-Jul-2005 NATO Speeches


5 July 2005

NATO: New Tasks and Responsibilities

Video interview with Jamie Shea,
Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations

Q: Welcome Dr. Shea.You are the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations at NATO. Your Division is organizing a conference on the topic "NATO: New Tasks and Responsibilities" with the organization Women in International Security; could you please tell us a little bit more about the conference?

JAMIE SHEA (Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations): Well this is the first time that we've partnered with WIIS (Women in International Security). We're very excited about it I think for two reasons.

The first reason is because we're going to have a number of very prominent ladies who have made their mark on international security either as academics or as serving politicians or as diplomats; and I think they're going to bring not only a lot of experience but a difference perspective in some cases to the debate. So that's the first reason.

The second reason is I think that this conference shows just how more prominent women are now in the security debate. First of all serving in the Armed Forces in more prominent roles, more senior positions, in many NATO countries but also the fact that women have made a very big conceptual contribution to the debate over the last few years and I think this demonstrates that security is not a man's profession, if it ever was, but is increasingly a profession in which women have an interest and women are making their mark.

Q: Could you please tell us a little bit more about how the idea of sponsoring a conference with WIIS evolved?

SHEA: Well we are fortunate in our Public Diplomacy Division here at NATO HQ to have many prominent women in senior positions. I say with some pride that of all of the NATO divisions we are one of the first, I think, to really have had a reasonable proportion of ladies serving in the staff; particularly in senior positions. And these colleagues of mine had the contact with WIIS through their professional activities, attended WIIS conferences and workshops, and had the idea that really it would make sense now to have a flagship event here in Brussels involving the Secretary General with WIIS and that's why we're going ahead.

Q: What are the issues that are going to be discussed more specifically at the conference?

SHEA: Well first of all I don't believe personally that when it comes to international security there are gender specific issues, of course not. Women, just like men, debate the key issues of the day: peacekeeping; how to improve the effectiveness of our counter-terrorism efforts; how to combat international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; how to make NATO and other international organizations more capable; how to improve transatlantic relations. So really what we're doing here is not sort of looking at things from a female perspective but simply asking some very prominent women who have made a large contribution to this debate to give us the benefit of their experience.

But also, given that some of the participants from WIIS have not been in touch with NATO in recent years, to show these people that NATO's on the move, that we're doing important things, that we're very much relevant, we're transforming so that they understand the NATO of today and maybe not the NATO that they were associated with in their professional careers a few years ago.

Q: Who will be participating in the conference? Are the speakers and participants primarily women?

SHEA: Mainly yes but not exclusively because again, as I've said, this is not something which is gender specific. Where women have one approach and men have another; you have women whose views vary on these issues just as much as men.

So what we've done is we tried to mix WIIS participants--and some are very prominent like Elizabeth Jones, former Assistant American Secretary of State or Clare Short, who is a former British Minister of Overseas Development--with the NATO community so that both sides can be heard.

And on the NATO side too we have somebody like Ginte Damusis, who is the Ambassador of Lithuania who was the first ever female ambassador on the NATO Council as a speaker. So I think this mixture of women, men, independent experts, NATO types, academics, politicians, is going to sort of add to a good conference and provide a lively effervescent debate.

Q: Thank you. And as a final question, has NATO traditionally been active on the topic of women in international security and is this conference linked to other activities on gender issues at NATO?

SHEA: We will- certainly we believe, as I said at the beginning, that security is not a male dominated profession. That may have been the case 40 or 50 years ago I'll grant you that. But of course recently one could hardly say that. We have ministers of defence who are ladies like Michelle Alliot-Marie in France, or Kristin Krohn Devold in Norway. We've had Madeleine Albright of course, now we have Condoleezza Rice as Secretaries of State in the US.

So this is an area where women have made their mark as analysts, as policy makers, in the military too as I said where the US, where Germany now, have several generals who are women. And I think what we want to do is reflect the fact that women have had a big impact, they have their view, and to hear them.

But I also, hopefully this type of activity will also further interests of women in international security as a worthwhile professional career.

We've had programs in our Public Diplomacy Division to reach out to women first of all in trying to make sure that women have a better chance in competing for senior NATO jobs and as I said I think the reality today reflects that we're having some success there; but also by showing the contribution that women are making to the debate to encourage other women who may be at the moment be students or graduate students, that this is an excellent career and it's a worthwhile issue to devote one's life to.

Q: Thank you for your time.

SHEA: Thank you.

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