Two International Expert Panels at the First NPT PrepCom in Vienna and a Publication Series POLICY FORUM Vienna, VIC, May 8 &10, 2017

This Networking Project entirely sponsored by the German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF) is a follow-up to the previous DSF co-sponsored conference activities in Frankfurt and Berlin, organized by the Academic Peace Orchestra Middle East (APOME) within the broader endeavor “Creating New Momentum for Nonproliferation and Disarmament in the Middle East/Gulf after the Failed 2015 Review Conference”. The major objective was to jointly develop Cooperative Ideas/concepts (inspired by Amb. Jaakko Laajava, the former Finnish Facilitator) in order to help re-launching a Communication & Conference Process in the Middle East/Gulf. In order to create synergy effects, optimize our activities, and achieve some burden sharing for this Project, APOME was joined by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GSCP).

After the Expert Workshops in Frankfurt and Berlin it was logical to put the Cooperative Ideas generated into practice by making use of two tools. First, by establishing two Expert Panels which allowed us to present both our developed and new/adjusted concepts before the international community of governments in Vienna on May 8 and 10, 2017. Second, by initiating a New Publication Series POLICY FORUM for Disarmament and Nonprolifertion in the Middle East Gulf – this initiative is the tool for creating sustainability in the interval between the First PrepCom and the second one scheduled for spring 2018 in Geneva. These two tools (with a third one – a new optional Cycle of small-scale Workshops – constitute our means of shaping and influencing the discourse at both the Track I-and Track II-levels.

Our approach of choosing the 'right' topics and hand-pick the 'right' experts for Vienna wa basically a pragmatic one. We deliberately opted for a 'Northern/Euro-centric' composition of experts: committed but non-partisan. Representatives from the region, our main addressees, had a preferential chance during the Q&A session to make their views known. In selecting the panelists, we strived for including young colleagues. The Cooperative Ideas to be presented at the two Expert Panels moderated by Bernd W. Kubbig and Marc Finaud, were as follows:

  • The members of the First Panel on May 8, which has to be seen in the traditional NPT context, suggested concrete steps for paving the way for the resumption of a meaningful Communication and Conference Process. The need for new, 'fresh' ideas is at center stage by all speakers to avoid repeating the unsuccessful previous years and to formulate first practical steps for an exit strategy from the current situation. The same applies to the relevance of bridge building in order to narrow or even overcome fundamental gaps in the security concepts. With these goals in mind, the added value of the Cooperative Ideas presented can be underscored (even if they are old and re-invented they have to get adjusted to new circumstances).
  • The panelists on May 10 focused with their Cooperative Ideas on assessing the transformative Potential of the EU/E3+3 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This regarded the model function of certain stipulations of the Accord such as the intrusive verification measures and the mechanisms of dealing with conflicts within the established Joint Committee. Iran could become the norm-driver for strengthening the NPT. Moreover, the Agreement give us the possibility of assessing new economic and financial opportunities for Iran, the Gulf and beyond, making it a potential provider of security/stability by reducing the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The monitoring role of the International Atomic Energy Agency could work as a confidence-building measure especially for Riyadh.

The Cooperative Ideas presented above in the two centers of gravity become the two mainstays of the New POLICY FORUM Publication Series – our second tool to getting the series started would be the first step, while achieving our objective of creating sustainability is based on the assumption that after the first event is prior to the second event, thus indicating the process character of our work. We aim at publishing about another six 2-4 pp. issues (i. e. a total of some 9 issues) subsequently in the interval – thus keeping the discourse alive and us as Track II actors visible, with the next NPT PrepCom in Geneva in mind.