On April 2nd-4th, representatives of approximately forty UN member states met for the opening plenary meeting of IPI’s “Task Force One on Strengthening Multilateral Security Capacity,” at the Greentree Estate on Long Island. Task Force One will deal specifically with transnational security challenges; these include organized crime, weapons of mass destruction, counterterrorism, small arms, and biosecurity. Each of these issues will be examined in greater depth during roundtables to be held during April and May.
The opening plenary meeting allowed those present to make suggestions to guide the subsequent roundtable discussions, which together will aspire to shape actionable recommendations for strengthening the capacity of the international community (and especially the United Nations) to tackle complex global security challenges.
IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen opened the two-day meeting by welcoming those present, including co-chairs H.E. Mr. Vanu Gopala Menon, and H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser.
Ambassador Menon is the Permanent Representative to the United Nations for Singapore. He has also served as his country’s Ambassador to Turkey and to the United Nations in Geneva. He joined the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 1985 and served as First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Singapore in New York from March 1988 to April 1991, and as Counsellor and later Minister-Counsellor in the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ambassador Menon also serves as an adviser to the Singapore Business Council as the High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to Canada.
Ambassador Wenaweser has served as Liechtenstein’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York since October 2002 and has been working on issues relating to the United Nations for more than ten years. He holds a number of important intergovernmental positions: In January 2004, he was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reform and has since played a central role in the intergovernmental consultations on this issue; in the context of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court, Ambassador. Wenaweser leads the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression; and, since March 2003, he has acted as the Chairman of the ad hoc Committee of the General Assembly negotiating a protocol expanding the scope of application of the 1994 Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel.
Following the president’s welcome and the introduction of the chairs, the participants dispersed into panels to discuss each of the main issues facing transnational security, with each subgroup chaired by a Permanent Representative to the UN. Those present were able and encouraged to bring new ideas and thinking to the table and did so with enthusiasm.
The meeting concluded with closing remarks by Edward Luck, Vice President and Director of Studies at IPI, who emphasized the need to break out of bad habits and inhibitions when international security is at stake. He concluded by adding that persistent, long-term commitment is needed for effective multilateral action.