The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) is a voluntary partnership of 86 nations and five official observers (International Atomic Energy Agency, European Union, INTERPOL, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). It is co-chaired by the United States of America and Russia. Its mission is to strengthen global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear or radiological terrorism. GICNT work has raised awareness of the ever-changing threat of terrorist use of nuclear and radioactive materials, and it has provided opportunities for countries to share information, expertise, and best practices in a voluntary, non-binding framework. With a focus on terrorism, the GICNT plays an important role in raising awareness of the evolving threat and offers a unique forum for dialogue between the law enforcement community, technical experts, operational experts, practitioners, policymakers and decision-makers to develop ideas and identify models and practices that enhance nuclear security. Membership in the GICNT is founded on commitment to a broad set of nuclear security principles, though in practice the partnership’s activities focus on three priority areas: nuclear detection, forensics and emergency response.
On June 15-16, 2016, the GICNT commemorated with a meeting in The Hague its tenth anniversary, demonstrating its durability as an institution. An official Swiss delegation including experts from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Spiez Laboratory and the Federal Office of Energy was present at the meeting. In the following, I provide you a shortened version of the official summary of the meeting (full Chairman’s summary):
The meeting started with the U.S. and Russian Co-Chair representatives reading messages of appreciation and support from President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin, respectively. The GICNT has used tabletop and field exercises, scenario-based dialogues, workshops and other practical activities to help partners gain expertise for developing and improving national-level programs, and developing best practices. Exercises are a proven model for countries to organize national-level teams to enhance interagency coordination in responding to nuclear security events, while also strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation. At the meeting, partners noted the benefit of these exercises, and stayed committed to this approach. Partners further stressed that nuclear security exercises such as supported by GICNT play an important role at both the national, bilateral and multilateral levels in promoting capacity building and sustainability of existing capabilities. GICNT partners noted GICNT activities also promote the development of national mechanisms to promote interagency cooperation and thus ensure policymakers receive essential information to support decision making. The Implementation and Assessment Group Coordinator recommended that legal experts should be more broadly involved with the GICNT working groups to assess and strengthen legal frameworks. GICNT partners noted that nuclear security challenges and terrorist threats have changed and more attention should be paid to radiological material and incorporating the views of the relevant scientific and industrial communities (such as the medical community), where appropriate. Partners expressed strong views that GICNT should continue sharing lessons learned, guidance and resources to promote unity of effort within the global nuclear security architecture. GICNT will continue to plan activities that support joint exploration of important technical and policy challenges and that promote interagency and international coordination and communication as priority areas of work within and amongst its partner countries. Partners noted that participation in GICNT exercises fulfill an important need for countries to review and assess national capabilities while also providing a forum in which countries can exercise together and establish or strengthen working relationships in advance of a crisis-situation. Partners expressed interest in continued GICNT activities highlighting best practices for developing crisis-messaging strategies.
Giuseppe Biino, Safeguards, Swiss Federal Office of Energy
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