About the Author: Graham Lampa is a Presidential Management Fellow currently on rotation with International Security and Nonproliferation, Office of WMD Terrorism.
In his Prague speech calling for renewed international action to rid the world of nuclear weapons, President Obama singled out nuclear terrorism as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.” To address the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons, the President called for nations to come together to turn the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism into a “durable international institution.” At this year’s plenary meeting in The Hague, Netherlands held June 16-17, the partner nations of the Global Initiative came together to move toward that goal.
At the plenary meeting, the U.S. and Russian Co-Chairs announced new participants in the Global Initiative: INTERPOL as an observer organization and Belarus as the 76th partner nation.
The Global Initiative 2009 Plenary’s Dutch hosts introduced a new element that promises to improve the organization and build on its focus on capacity-building. After the first day of high-level diplomatic discussions in the large plenary room at the World Forum, subject matter experts from the partner nations rolled up their sleeves and joined together in working groups to share their experiences and develop best practices in the areas of equipment and technology, exercises, public-private partnerships, and Web-based collaboration.
The United States sent 27 delegates to the plenary meeting; in addition to representatives from the Department of State, experts from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice as well as other agencies also participated. Acting Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Dr. Eliot Kang led the U.S. team as head of delegation.
Once ideological rivals who threatened mutually assured destruction, the United States and Russia now work together as co-chairs of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Begun in 2006, the Global Initiative is a partnership that is building capacity in each of its partner nations to better equip national, regional, and local officials with the knowledge and expertise needed to prevent nuclear weapons and related technologies from falling into the hands of terrorists and to lock down sensitive nuclear materials inside their borders.
The Global Initiative is neither a treaty nor a traditional international organization. Rather, it is a global partnership based on a Statement of Principles endorsed by each partner nation and observer organization.
As the Global Initiative continues to develop into the “durable international institution” called for by President Obama, its co-chairs and partner nations will retain their focus on the mission that brought them all together: to prevent the possibility of an act of nuclear terrorism.