By Alexis Lefranc
Held on Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th March, the 2nd Nuclear Security Summit aimed to “seek joint response measures and ways to cooperate to strengthen nuclear security, based on a shared recognition at the highest level of its importance”*. Heads of international organisations as well as 53 heads of State met over two days to consider coordinated action on nuclear security. As well as the protection of nuclear facilities, themes of prevention against nuclear terrorism and trafficking of nuclear material are on the agenda.
A symbolic choice, Seoul was chosen as the hosting place for the summit. The international community is here setting a benchmark acknowledging the peaceful use by the ROK of nuclear energy, as well as of its resilience in the latent but corrosive conflict with its Northern neighbour. This is a strong message from a group of 53 states including all G20 actors and most other sizeable economies. Noticeable though, is the absence of LDC nations and smaller states, in a joint effort that is likely to require access to some of their territories if nuclear trafficking is to be tackled.
The first summit was set up in Washington, in April 2010, on Barack Obama’s initiative. Deemed a success because the 47 heads of State present took a clear stance on preventing the misuse of nuclear materials by non-state actors, it did not lead to any immediate concerted action by attending countries.
The events of Fukushima in 2011 shocked the world and drew attention from all among the human community to the question of nuclear security. While the debate in Europe has largely hovered around environmental and sustainability issues, Asian and developing nations as well as international organisations will be eager to address the urgency in protecting citizens in exposed regions.
- Key facts of the summit