in Titles if necessary */ $editorial_body="

What is the purpose of civil society?

With a matter of weeks to go before the second EU Seminar on the Middle East WMDFZ Project, and the Helsinki Conference seeming increasingly likely to take place before the end of the year, the question of civil society’s role in the multilateral arms control process is of great significance. This latest edition will address the issue via a particular focus on BASIC, a think tank heavily involved in the preparation of the 2012 Conference.

More generally, the question should be considered given civil society’s claims for an ever more important function in the negotiation and review processes of the major international arms control instruments, above all that of the NPT.

In actual fact, civil society has played a role in this process since the mid-1950s. This role may vary: leaving aside the pure and simple contestation of established orders, it entails a desire to provide information, criticism, expertise, and assistance to decision-makers. The role of the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium is very much in line with this traditional framework, in so far as the Consortium aims to inform and criticise the policies implemented and to foster the decision-making process.

On the one hand, European leaders benefit from both a higher profile and expertise channelled towards policy recommendations. On the other, independent research finds itself supported and encouraged to provide constructive criticism of the policies implemented. The partnership very much seems to be functioning successfully, and has turned its attention since 2011 to the Middle East WMDFZ project following its recent revival by the last NPT Review Conference: the Consortium will once again be looking to advance this ambitious long-term project in Brussels on the 5th and 6th November 2012.

"; $editorial_signature="Benjamin Hautecouverture
EU Non-Proliferation Consortium / Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS)"; // INTERVIEW // ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /* ADD
in quote if necessary */ $quote="Groups like BASIC are able to hold a neutral and productive space for discussions"; $hat=" The academic commitment of BASIC in the Middle-East WMD-Free Zone project in 2012 testifies to the contribution civil society can make to complex international security debates. "; $biography=" Paul Ingram is Executive Director of the British American Security Information Council, a transatlantic organisation promoting policies that strengthen nuclear non-proliferation and overcome the obstacles to global nuclear disarmament. Paul also hosts a weekly peak-time talk show on Iranian domestic TV News in Farsi). "; /* COLUMNS Synthax: $Question? Column1 and Colum2 : the last

doesn't have closing tag. */ $interview=" BASIC has already organized meetings on the topic of a WMD Free zone in the Middle East, in particular in Cairo at the beginning of 2012. Another meeting will be held in Istanbul in a few weeks. What are your expectations for these kinds of events?

Our events have several purposes, and each has a unique emphasis. Our meeting in Cairo was intended to engage Egyptian think tanks and civil society in a discussion around how Egypt could best promote the values of nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East, and raise the profile of the issue at a critical time in the Egyptian transition. Egypt has played a central role within the NPT RevCon debates and we are keen that this role evolves in a manner that is helpful to the strengthening of the regime, rather than the issue sinking or simply used as a political football against Israel. Egyptian understanding of the issue in terms of fairness is evident; our intention was to add other dimensions to sit alongside that perception. Our meeting in Doha earlier this year was rather targeted at the Gulf states, which so far have been quiet on the issue, but sit in an important strategic position at a time when there appears to be growing interest in the region around the use of nuclear technology for civil purposes. We were keen to discuss with officials and academics from the region the importance of establishing strong non-proliferation measures, and the role they could play diplomatically to shore up the regime.

We have also been running several smaller roundtables whose purpose is to bring together senior officials and experts to discuss the critical issues prior to the Helsinki conference, the latest of which will be in Istanbul at the end of October and forms a part of the strategy to construct a positive agenda with which all states can participate. Groups like BASIC are able to hold a neutral and productive space for such discussions with the explicit but sole purpose of strengthening nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and building confidence throughout the region.

How would you qualify the momentum of the Helsinki conference if it is to be held at the end of December 2012?

It was always going to be the case that neither Israel nor Iran would commit to attending the conference until the last moment – it’s simply a question of incentives. It can also be expected that in the run up to a US Presidential election the administration would neither be focused on the issue, nor in a position to encourage the Israelis to attend. However, I am confident that there is a good chance that once the election is out of the way we will see agreement on the dates (either end of December or early 2013), and I believe in the end both countries will attend. The issue of Syrian participation is more problematic still, but should not be allowed to delay the conference.

The EU has been involved in the multilateral process aiming to establish a WMDFZ in the Middle East for nearly 20 years. How would you assess its involvement?

Though the EU has a different formal role to the states sponsoring the 1995 Resolution, it’s role in raising international awareness of and keeping alive the issue, and giving states in the region a regular forum to discuss it, has been important. Ever since 1995 the Middle East zone has played a strong role in the global politics of nuclear non-proliferation, and the EU’s decision to highlight it has ensured that states in the region do not feel the issue is neglected. Because the United States is seen by Arab states as partial in its treatment because of its close relationship with Israel, the official and think-tank community within the EU are a useful resource. "; /* SIGNATURE Synthax: $Name
$NameofTheThinkTank ($ACRONYM), $City */ $signature=" Alexander Bramble
Research Assistant
Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), Paris "; $interview .= "

Interview conducted by ".$signature; ?> The EU Non-Proliferation Consortium - Enewsletter, - Page 1