Overview

The METO Project is comprised of a network of civil society organizations working toward establishing a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East (the Zone). We engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders—civil society, academia, policymakers and governments—to devise a comprehensive and pioneering path toward realizing the Zone. Our multidisciplinary team hail from the Middle East and beyond, and are working to deliver innovative and strategic results that are achievable, measurable and inclusive.

Vision: Our vision is a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Middle East—at the forefront of advancing a world free from poverty, war and environmental apocalypse.

Mission: Our mission is to provide a practical, achievable and innovative roadmap for establishing a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East.

The Problem: The process to establish a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East desperately needs an injection of energy, creativity and commitment, for its own sake and for the health of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that is so closely tied to it. Although, in theory, there is a shared vision, so far it has been mired with fractious dispute over the basis, modalities and sequencing, to the extent that stakeholders are now more familiar with the obstacles than the opportunities.

Our Solution: We believe that any treaty solution around the WMDFZ will, by necessity, require an agency to oversee implementation, verification and compliance.  In this context, we foresee the need for a Middle East Treaty Organization (METO), established through the provisions of a WMDFZ Treaty.  In a proactive effort to turn the vision of the zone into reality, a core group of civil society individuals from the region, with international experts and diplomats, have come together (initially under BASIC’s facilitation) to start work on a Draft Treaty leading to METO.

The aim is to encourage states and civil society to imagine what can be achieved when we turn our minds and imagination to the possible.

Our Approach: The METO Project has crafted a living and adaptive Draft Treaty to galvanize governments
and civil society across the region in an inclusive process involving debate and political pressure to promote a WMDFZ in the Middle East. This work is already enabling stakeholders to imagine the zone while bringing together diplomats and experts to discuss; issues of implementation and verification, educational programs for capacity building, the creation of a regional network, advocacy campaigns and other related projects.

The Draft Treaty will remain a draft only and individuals, NGOs and governments are invited to suggest changes. We do not seek agreement on this Draft Treaty, nor do we think it is possible at this stage; our intention is to show that a process is possible if the political will exists.

Anticipated Milestone: We are hopeful that by the time of the 2020 NPT Review Conference there will be enough sense of progress in our approach that states in the region will see the opportunities for cooperation and not use the Middle East as an excuse to simply derail a final document.

Activities: There have already been a number of meetings (Track 1.5 and 2) on the Draft Treaty (the latest being two roundtables in London in September 2018). These build upon previous roundtables from 2010 to 2017 hosted by BASIC, IDM, Green Cross, Chatham House and other partners across the Middle East that have addressed the need for a WMDFZ.

We have also presented the evolving Draft Treaty at NPT Preparatory Committees (2017 and 2018), the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) negotiations in New York (2017), the UN First Committee (2017), the Biological Weapons Convention Expert Meeting (2018) and at the Chemical Weapons Convention States Parties Conference (2018). 2019 sees the first steps in the creation of METO Project, with strategy planning for the organization’s structure, function and operation. We also prioritized building a stronger coalition of nongovernmental organizations and state supporters around the objectives of the WMDFZ in the Middle East.

Upcoming Activities:
We will further develop the network of civil society and officials (in their personal capacity) in the region and outside, through seminars, workshops and educational training. We are planning a series of capacity building programs for experts and students from the region; and to provide consultation to respective governments to assist with policy formulation and preparation for 2020 NPT Review Conference.

We continue with our public campaign within the region, with a focus initially on Israel. We believe that it is within Israel that public opinion can have the most positive impact in achieving the necessary change for progress on seemingly intractable challenges toward establishing the zone.

Partners

Work on the Draft Treaty and METO Project has been made possible with support from Green Cross Switzerland, the Swedish MFO, IPPNW Germany, SLMK Sweden, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, Scottish CND, ICAN Scotland, IPB and with the facilitation of BASIC, GDP, IGD Group and the IDM.

This initiative would not be possible without the invaluable contributions by regional and international activists, academics and government officials.

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