Meeting Notes - May 31, 2004
Weapons of Mass Destruction and the United Nations: Diverse Threats and Collective Responses
Natasha Bajema with Cyrus Samii, rapporteurs
The proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons (NBC) remains a profound problem for the international community for a number of reasons.
Efforts to newly acquire such weapons typically indicate that an interstate dispute has fallen into a downward spiral of obduracy and mutual estrangement, breeding intensified fears of malign intentions, and undermining the possibility for the cooperative pursuit of regional interests and the peaceful use of advanced nuclear, biological, and chemical technologies. Terrorist acquisition of such weapons is constrained, but not inconceivable. NBC terrorism is an acute threat, because terrorists are more likely to use weapons as soon as possible after acquiring them, rather than maintaining them for deterrence. Differences in perceptions of the threat of NBC proliferation and in the adequacy of the UN to deal with such threats have forced the organization to search for a redefinition of its role.
Regimes for the nonproliferation of NBC face a crisis in two dimensions. The first dimension involves a series of startling revelations about the extent and linkages of weapons programs around the world. These revelations have occurred against a backdrop of both positive and negative trends in relation to state-based programs. But increases in the availability of requisite technology and the likelihood of massive terrorist attacks have produced a heightened perception of NBC threats. The question remains whether this heightened perception will be translated into a strengthened nonproliferation framework.
The second dimension of the crisis concerns the ability of the international community to devise effective responses. This dimension is defined by the rigid bipolar debate over unilateral versus multilateral responses. Ad hoc and coalition efforts have been initiated outside the multilateral framework, particularly by the US, in response to the seeming inadequacies of multilateralism. Critics of such initiatives claim that they bypass and erode the multilateral framework, which is essential for the long-term reduction of NBC threats. The key challenge for the international community is to reconcile the different roles of unilateral, bilateral, plurilateral (i.e., multinational, but not within the multilateral framework), and multilateral instruments to provide for a comprehensive response.
The Global Observatory
Risk and Robustness: A Conversation with Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A conversation with Nassim Nicholas Taleb about the concepts of risk, resilience, volatility, and their meaning for international relations.
Key Global Events to Watch in September
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
September 19, 2014
Madani: Extremist Group Actions “Cannot be Associated with Any Religion”
Iyad Madani, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reaffirmed at IPI the Muslim world’s commitment to religious tolerance and human rights and sought to distance Islam from the recent violent actions at the hands of extremist groups across Africa and the Middle East.
September 15, 2014
Despite Disaffection, Youth Still Engaged with Democracy
Young people around the world appear increasingly disaffected with politics and political institutions, particularly in countries where corruption is rampant and government accountability is lacking. Yet during a September 15th event commemorating the International Day of Democracy, a group of young political activists from three different continents spoke at IPI about recent gains in youth political activism and ways to encourage it.
September 10, 2014
Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future: The Middle East After 1914
On September 10-11, 2014, the International Peace Institute launched its inaugural meeting at its Middle East Regional Office in Manama, Bahrain titled “Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future: The Middle East After 1914.”
September 17, 2014
Video: Strengthening Democratic Governance in Africa