In November 2012, La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue and the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) convened a regional dialogue in Athens on the proposal to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery (WMDFZ). In preparation since April 2010, the dialogue was the product of extensive consultation with key stakeholders in the Middle East as well as outside the region. Those invited to participate were drawn largely from Arab countries, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Invitations were also issued to a few others noted for their expertise or involvement in or support for the proposed UN Helsinki Conference.
It was envisaged that arising from the ‘Athens Dialogue’ a Report would be prepared setting out findings and recommendations. The report was to be forwarded to: the United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, Under-Secretary of State in Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jaakko Laajava, who is acting as the facilitator for the inter-governmental negotiations, the Russian, UK and US governments who are together the co-sponsors of the UN Helsinki Conference, and to other relevant governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. This would be done in time for the proposed Helsinki Conference which was scheduled for December 2012. In the light of subsequent US and other announcements indicating that the Helsinki Conference would be postponed, the sponsoring organisations have included in this Report a number of observations on recent developments and reflections on prospects for future dialogue and negotiations.
The Athens Dialogue produced a number of proposals which could be taken to further the goal of security in the Middle East and assist the negotiation of a WMDFZ. These proposals, which, are even more relevant in the wake of the postponement of the Helsinki Conference, are summarised and listed as Annex A, on page 59 of this Report.
Joseph A. Camilleri, Michael Hamel-Green, Marianne Hanson, Michalis S. Michael, and N.A.J. Taylor’s co-authored book, Athens Dialogue on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction as well as their Means of Delivery, was published in English, Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew by the European Public Law Organisation in March 2013. [PDF]
Table of Contents
The Political Geography of a Middle East WMDFZ
Why a Track-Two/Track-Three Dialogue?
The Athens DialogueE Method and Process
The Athens Dialogue Context
Imagining the Future
The WMDFZ Proposal: The Road Travelled Thus Far
Key Obstacles to Negotiating a WMDFZ in the Middle East
Useful Practical Next Steps
Other Short- to Medium-Term Initiatives
The WMDFZ in the Wider Middle East Context
Postscript on the Athens Dialogue
Prospects and Ways Forward