Programme theme: Defence and security


Our annual meeting on Rethinking deterrence and assurance addressed western strategies and the future options for nuclear deterrence and assurance. Particular topics of focus were recent developments in relations between Russia and the West; key elements of a strategy to negate coercion and deter escalation; and implications for the further evolution of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)’s deterrence and defence posture. Discussions developed new ideas and concepts around these issues and helped participants to better appreciate the challenges of deterrence in a multi-polar, multi-domain world. Bridging European and Transatlantic perspectives,

The future of European militaries asked what military force Europeans should aspire to create by 2030. It reinforced the challenges implicit in European defence and helped establish a process going forward.

Arms control

Responding to deliberate biological release assessed the requirements for effective, coordinated international action. The meeting identified how governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental entities can prepare and effectively implement collaborative action in the event of the use of biological weapons, whether by states or non-state actors, in order to ensure an effective response.

Wilton Park and the FCO convened key stakeholders for a two-day workshop in South Africa, to explore the role of civil society and technology in enhancing law enforcement efforts to reduce illicit flows of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) at Implementing SDG 16.4 – Increasing detection and reporting of illicit SALW. The event, hosted in partnership with regional actors: The Secretariat of the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) and the African Union (AU), brought together law enforcement agencies, institutions and civil society to discuss the challenges facing detection and reporting initiatives. Participants shared the lessons of previous interventions, examining new tools to enhance efforts at detecting illicit SALW, and produced proposals for new SALW detection and reporting programmes.

Clearance of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the Middle East assessed the challenges IEDs pose to the military, commercial and humanitarian stabilisation of affected countries, and the requirements for effective and efficient coordination between the stakeholders responsible for clearance. This meeting was widely considered as a turning point in discussions on IED and mine action issues, while also prompting ongoing and open consultation on the standards of IED disposal.

Our long-term nuclear non-proliferation series, supported by Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia Laboratories, continued to inform and influence the global non-proliferation community. The results from Nuclear security architecture: identifying emerging challenges and opportunities were presented by the UK at the September Nuclear Security Contact Group. Nuclear non-proliferation: challenges and opportunities for the global regime reviewed the status of and prospects for the nuclear non-proliferation regime as we head towards the 2020 NPT Review, debating NPT diplomacy, the nuclear ban treaty, the future of the non-proliferation pillar.

Verification in multilateral nuclear disarmament brought together newly announced members of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on verifying nuclear disarmament, drawing on practical past experience of similar issues to identify transferable lessons, and set out intentions on how to pursue the work of the GGE.


Government and industry participants from likeminded space faring nations discussed Responsible behaviour in space to develop specific proposals for new space norms. Held in partnership with the FCO, UK Space Agency, Airbus (UK), and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, discussions looked at guiding principles for effective and responsible national space regulation and how to create an action plan to promote space interests via international fora.