Iran Accord and Momentum-building
Citizens of the World welcome the agreements reached on the Iranian nuclear program. These long and serious negotiations carried out on the edge of the Lake of Geneva captured the Swiss spirit of compromise: agreements must provide benefits for all parties and must be seen as having long-range consequences.
A steady, systematic momentum is needed in everything. Now, motion is needed to develop a broad security and cooperation system for the Middle East, somewhat on the lines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The timing of the agreement on the nuclear program of Iran is an important prelude to the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which will start at the United Nations in New York on 27 April and run through most of the month of May. A nuclear-weapon- free Middle East has been one of the themes of previous NPT Reviews, held every five-years since 1975. Little or no progress has been made on this narrow concentration on nuclear weapons alone.
Thus, there is a need to focus on creating a broad security and cooperation zone, which like the OSCE, has conflict resolution, arms control, human rights and economic cooperation dimensions.As with the period prior to the August 1975 Helsinki Conference on European Security, strong and diverse leadership is needed, leadership coming from both governments and non-governmental and academic organizations. Track II diplomacy − informal and usually off-the-record talks − played an important role in leading up to the Helsinki agreement and its application.
Formal talks among government representatives had started during the first half of 1973 and then were carried on from September 1973 to June 1975 in Geneva. However, prior to 1973 and during the Geneva stage of the negotiations there had been a good number of informal discussions including NGO representatives and academics. The Middle East merits such strong and creative efforts as well.
A security and cooperation zone for the wider Middle East will need opportunities for open and good faith discussions on security, economic and cultural policies to be set which enhance the dignity of all sectors of the population. Such discussions require a vital and diversified civil society. Civil society must increase its contribution in terms of information and detailed analysis. This is a challenge which world citizens and all of good will must undertake.
* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.