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Event | 24 August 2022

Reinforcing the multilateral nuclear regime in times of duress: Project launch

On 16th August, the ELN launched a new project – “Reinforcing the multilateral nuclear regime in times of duress” – on the sidelines of the tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (RevCon). Attended by disarmament diplomats and relevant civil society organisations, the event was designed to introduce the project and to obtain feedback from diplomats on how to ensure it is both relevant and impactful to policymakers.

The discussion was chaired by ELN Research Director Andreas Persbo and included an introduction to the project by senior policy fellow Dr Maximilian Hoell and policy fellow Julia Berghofer. Senior network member Ahmet Üzümcü then spoke about his experience of working with the ELN on the P5 process and strategic stability, and ways in which the ELN can add value to the NPT review process, while ELN senior network member Adam Kobieracki concluded the panel with insights into his experience of the NPT review process as a diplomat.

Funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project aims to strengthen the NPT against the backdrop of increasing competition between nuclear-armed states in two ways:

First, it seeks to preserve the current multilateral non-proliferation regime today; that is, it seeks to prevent what some observers have called the “erosion” of the nuclear taboo and the erosion of the NPT.

Second, the project will work to prepare the ground for tomorrow’s arms control.

ELN policy fellow Julia Berghofer, Research Director Andreas Persbo, and senior policy fellow Dr Maximilian Hoell speaking at the project’s launch event in New York.

Over the next three years, the project will encompass three workstreams:

Workstream 1 will support practical and relevant initiatives to pave the way for tomorrow’s arms control. For instance, there is still a need for studies into the conditions for nuclear disarmament, studies into the preparation for future verification challenges, and studies into the irreversibility of arms control and disarmament. So as part of this workstream, the project team will:

  • Work directly with governments and non-governmental stakeholders to further nuclear verification, irreversibility, and capacity-building. We hope to help prepare working papers for use in NPT or UN processes.
  • Reinforce ongoing work by relevant GGEs (such as the GGE/NDV) and informal collaborations (IPNDV and CEND) by deploying secretariat expertise in these issue areas.
  •  Reinforce analytical work on, for instance, the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament, potentially by engaging in joint enterprises with like-minded governments (such as the United Kingdom).

Workstream 2 seeks to identify and pursue pathways to diplomatic success of the eleventh NPT review cycle. The ELN will examine and offer language, and policy proposals, that states can insert into the NPT review process. The network is well placed, given the expertise of its members, to offer advice on pathways to success in the 11th NPT review cycle. The ELN will put together an NPT advisory committee as well as recruit more NPT-focused expertise into the various levels of the network, from retired disarmament ambassadors to emerging think-tankers and intellectuals.

Workstream 3 builds capacity among the next generation of arms controllers. The Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security (YGLN) will be the motor of this ‘next generation’ work, not only in an educational sense but also in terms of directly engaging members, for instance, in policy formulation. This workstream will convene intergenerational meetings on NPT matters and result in commissioned publications by younger generation arms controllers on all three pillars of the NPT.

The ELN’s definition of ‘younger generation’ is unique: we target promising young experts with a clear potential of becoming future leaders, many of whom are already well-respected voices in their fields, approximately up to the age of 40.

This project takes a holistic approach to the NPT. Rather than looking at the three pillars in isolation for a relatively short period of time, it aims to provide practical feedback on all three pillars across the eleventh NPT review cycle.

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.