A regional organization for a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East

On Wednesday, 27th of October, the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the Middle East Treaty Organization hosted a side event to the UN General Assembly First Committee meetings at which were presented key elements of the new Draft Treaty which has been produced this year after extensive rounds of meetings with experts and diplomats from across the region and beyond.

The welcome was given by Ambassador Jim Kelly, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Irish mission, speaking about Ireland’s history of involvement in disarmament fora and Ireland’s support for the WMDFZ.

The event was then beautifully moderated by Paul Ingram, founding director of Emergent Change, an initiative created to develop the Stepping Stones Approach to nuclear disarmament, who introduced the remaining speakers.

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy Coordination, Office reporting to the Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (2002-2011), then spoke on the background to the zone project and what to expect at the upcoming November Conference on the zone. He also gave his views on the relationship between the NPT Review Process and the drive to achieve a Middle East WMD free zone.

Mona Saleh, from Egypt and a doctoral researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies highlighted recent developments in the geo-political situation of the region and their implications for the zone. (Click here to read Mona’s talking points.)

Sharon Dolev, founder of the Israeli Disarmament Movement and founder and executive director of the Middle East Treaty Organization, spoke about the importance of the November Conference, the importance of agreeing on anything despite the absence of Israel from the room, and the importance of everyone protecting this process.

Leonardo Bandarra, who, besides his activity in METO, is also an associate at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), explained some of the new details added to this version of the Draft Treaty including mechanisms of verification and compliance that would be undertaken by a regional organization specifically created for this purpose.

Finally, Emad Kiyaei, a director of the Middle East Treaty Organization who holds a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, spoke about METO, our different work streams and how diplomats, academics and civil society can get involved with the project to create a regional WMD Free Zone as part of a wider mission to bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East.

All of the interventions by the panellists can be see in the videos below: