In 2011, the EastWest Institute (EWI) and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan launched the Nuclear Discussion Forum, a series of off-the-record meetings that brought together United Nations Member States committed to building trust, identifying milestones, and working to mobilize international political will for concrete, practical nuclear nonproliferation, and disarmament measures.
The Forum brought together representatives from 34 U.N. Member States. The aim: to establish a foundation of trust among these crucial states and identify the next milestones on the path to global zero.
In an effort to make the Nuclear Discussion Forum an organic, Member State-led process, participants were asked to select five high-priority topics for discussion and form a core working group. This core working group met before each forum meeting to review the prepared “policy reference points,” raise specific issues to be discussed and suggest a speaker and discussant. Six Member States volunteered to serve in the group alongside EWI and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan: Austria, Costa Rica, Egypt, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Uruguay.
This short report is intended to capture a sense of the debate as it proceeded in the Forum, which has gained praise from key international leaders:
“As a member of the core group, Egypt participated actively in the activities of the Nuclear Discussion Forum, which it sees as a commendable initiative facilitated through the partnership of the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan and the EastWest Institute, and expects the NDF to continue to contribute valuably to raising international public awareness on the merit of the goal of total and comprehensive nuclear disarmament.”
His Excellency Maged Abdelaziz
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations
“The Nuclear Discussion Forum has provided a major and sustained opportunity for conducting a healthy exercise in the context of international relations: exchanging points of views on issues of great concern that generate multiple positions. For a peaceful country as Costa Rica, deeply committed to disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons, the Forum has opened an arena for discussion, not with the aim of convincing fellow countries or forging common proposals, but, rather, of deepening a constructive dialogue that will certainly contribute to our aspirations.”
His Excellency Eduardo Ulibarri
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations
“The Nuclear Discussion Forum has contributed to the cultivation of an informal disarmament community among officials with relevant responsibilities both in the Permanent Missions and in the Secretariat’s office for Disarmament Affairs. And it has provided a welcome opportunity for all participants to receive briefings from outside experts on specific subjects on the international disarmament and nonproliferation agenda.”
United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
“The debate on ridding the world of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and ensuring non-proliferation must continue with purpose among all stakeholders. My delegation was pleased to participate in the very constructive Nuclear Discussion Forum, the report of which aptly underscores the urgency of mobilizing political will to undertake the States’ stated commitments on achieving the vision of global nuclear zero. My commendation to the Mission of Kazakhstan and EastWest Institute for undertaking this highly important effort.”
His Excellency Hasan Kleib
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations
“Austria has actively participated in the Nuclear Discussion Forum as a member of its Core Working Group. This commendable partnership between the EastWest Institute and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan has underscored the urgent need for new progress in the field of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, and I hope that the Forum will continue its important functions next year”.
His Excellency Thomas Mayr-Harting
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations