Programme themes

Defence and security

Wilton Park’s non-proliferation programme has been running for thirty years, addressing the spread of WMD and supporting international governance of proliferation.

We cover nuclear, chemical and biological non-proliferation from different perspectives. Themes include the status and future of the international regimes on non-proliferation, the challenges posed by new scientific developments, how agreements can be dependably verified, the prospects for stable nuclear order and the potential for eventual nuclear disarmament. More recently we have expanded our work in support of the international Arms Trade Treaty. Annual events include a summer conference on stability among nuclear-armed states, and our flagship conference on nuclear non-proliferation held annually in December. Other themes include reinvigorating conventional arms control in Europe and combatting illicit nuclear trafficking.

Our long-standing partnerships provide us with valued intellectual and financial support. For example: foreign ministries in Canada, the UK, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden; US national laboratories Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia; NGOs and think tanks, including the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, and the Verification Training and Research Centre.

Discussions also address policy and capability, stabilisation and counter-insurgency operations, NATO priorities, maritime security, defence systems and state intelligence. We consider Alliance relationships, bringing together senior policy experts and officials from both members and partner countries to help shape the future agenda for the transatlantic security and defence relationship as well as NATO’s contribution to collective security. In May 2013 Wilton Park held its first ever conference on professional military education (PME) in collaboration with Allied Command Transformation and NATO Defense College, issuing recommendations on how to maintain education as a key enabler of the human capital that is the comparative advantage of NATO militaries during a time of shrinking defence budgets.

Recent conference topics include:

100 years of chemical weapons and the future of the OPCW

Rethinking deterrence and assurance

The Arms Trade Treaty and the Commonwealth

Implementing Africa’s maritime security strategies

Connecting space with international security and stability

More in Defence and security

Other themes

Conflict prevention, resolution and state building
Global economy
Human rights, good governance and faith
Multilateral institutions, key countries and regions
Sustainable development and the environment


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Enhancing the security of the global maritime supply chain: detecting and permanently removing nuclear and other radioactive materials out of regulatory control (WP1432)

16 Nov 2015 Conference

As radiation detection systems have been increasingly deployed at seaports over the past decade, it has become clear that the removal of radioactive and nuclear Material Out of Regulatory Control (MORC) from the maritime supply is a complex issue that …

Nuclear non-proliferation: planning for 2020 (WP1414)

14 Dec 2015 Conference

This annual dialogue, a fixture in our calendar since 1996, will assess challenges, opportunities and prospects for the nuclear non-proliferation regime over the 2020 cycle of the NPT.

deterrence, nuclear deterrence, Russia, Ukraine,

Nuclear deterrence – the decision making process (WP1401)

10 Jul 2015 Podcast

We talk about the discussions and debates that take place and ask how the decision process works. We also discuss what discussions take place about the circumstances under which nuclear weapons might be used. Contributors: Heather Williams, MacArthur Postdoctoral Fellow, …

Russia, Europe,

Russia – their changing relationship with the world (WP1401)

25 Jun 2015 Podcast

President Obama’s special adviser on Russia discusses the rise of the new and troubled relationship in Europe’s east. Contributor: Celeste Wallander, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia, National Security Council, Washington DC Related …

Wiston House,

The Australia Group: challenges and future directions (WP1412)

14 Oct 2015 Conference

This meeting will develop options for short and medium term strategy for the Australia Group with emphasis on future membership and adherence; increasing efforts against CBW terrorism; outreach to industry and academia; and intangible technology transfers.

Image: John Lamb Photography Limited

Compliance with the BTWC: strategies towards the 2016 Review Conference (WP1416)

23 Sep 2015 Conference

This dialogue will assess how to construct consensus on possible concrete measures to promote compliance with the Biological & Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), how consensus on such measures might be constructed before the 2016 BTWC Review, and how they could …

WWI, Chemical weapons, Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Disarmament, WMD, verification, OPCW,

100 years of chemical weapons and the future of the OPCW (WP1408)

15 Jun 2015 Conference

Held in association with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first use of chemical weapons during the First World War, and also to mark 18 years of the Chemical Weapon Convention, this seminar assessed …

Image: UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

The Arms Trade Treaty and the Commonwealth (WP1410)

8 Jun 2015 Conference

Dialogue to assess the current state of adherence to, and implementation of, the ATT among Commonwealth states.  14 Commonwealth countries have yet to sign the ATT, and a further 15 have signed but not ratified. Moreover, many of those which …

deterrence, nuclear deterrence, Russia, Ukraine,

Rethinking deterrence and assurance (WP1401)

10 Jun 2015 Conference

The meeting assessed: How NATO partners view the new threats after Ukraine and is the Alliance suited to meet them? The likely trajectory of Russian force posture and conventional/nuclear strategy, and the balance between long-running trends and post-Ukraine ones; The …

Image: Combined Maritime Forces

Implementing Africa’s maritime security strategies (WP1407)

4 May 2015 Conference

This Wilton Park/Institute for Security Studies event examined African maritime security capacity and strategies, at a time when there is serious international interest to contribute further to African-led efforts to secure this ‘blue economy’. Countries in Africa depend heavily on …

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