Munich as the capital of security policy
From January 31 to February 2, 2014, the Bavarian capital will again be in the focus of international politics. Over 400 renowned decision-makers in international politics, including about twenty heads of state and government and more than fifty foreign and defense ministers, will come together at the 50th Munich Security Conference (MSC) to discuss current and future issues in foreign and security policy.
The crisis in Syria, the conflict concerning Iran’s nuclear program, the recent developments in Ukraine, and the debate about cyber and data security will be among the top issues at this year's conference. On Friday, the conference, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, will be opened by German President Joachim Gauck. The German government will be represented by five ministers, including Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), and Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière (CDU). Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also announced his attendance. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, US Secretary of State John Kerry, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrow, as well as Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, are also expected to participate in the conference.
A highlight of this 50th anniversary conference will be the joint appearance of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, former French President Valerie Giscard d'Estaing, and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Together with younger decision-makers, they will be discussing the past and the future of security policy on Saturday. Both Schmidt and Kissinger had already given speeches at the very first conference in 1963.
About the Munich Security Conference
Over the past five decades, the MSC has evolved into a leading annual get-together for the international “strategic community.” Since its inception in the year 1963, the conference has come to serve as an independent forum to promote peaceful solutions to conflict and to foster international cooperation in dealing with current and future security challenges, with a special focus on the transatlantic partnership. In addition to the traditional annual conference, the MSC has also developed a number of smaller forums, including the MSC Core Group Meetings and the Cyber Security Summit, to address specific challenges of international security policy in different cities around the world.
Events on the margins of the Munich Security Conference
Over the last years, the Munich Security Conference and the city of Munich have become a center of gravity for defence and security policy debates. On the sidelines of the conference, some fifty top-notch events will be organized by a host of national and international institutions and initiatives, underlining Munich’s trademark as a security capital.
In cooperation with the Körber Foundation, the MSC will for the sixth time present the Munich Young Leaders Program (MYL), which has brought together more than one hundred future leaders in foreign and security policy. This year, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, former United States National Security Advisor, will be among the seasoned statesmen to hold discussion sessions with the next generation.
Stiftung Mercator and the MSC hosted an event addressing climate change as an increasing threat to stability, development, and security on Friday morning. The panel includes Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, Ottmar Edenhofer, Chairman of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Narendra Taneja, President of the World Energy Policy Summit, who will be joining the discussion on the fundamental aspects of global warming and its consequences.
The growing competition for limited resources will be another challenge for national security and regional stability. The BRIC countries, in particular, and other emerging economic powers are faced with a critical shortage of resources. This one one the findings of the Earth Security Index, which will be presented during an event called “Limited Resources – Unlimited Security Risks”, hosted by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt on January 31, before the official start of the MSC. The panel will be joined by China’s Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying and Harald Krüger, member of the Board of Management of BMW.
Other events, among many others, include a discussion on defense spending organized by the renowned Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the presentation of a study on post-conflict reconstruction by Transparency International, a debate on secure supply routes hosted jointly by the Bavarian Business Association (VBW) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI), as well as a first update on the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, organized by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and presented by Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
This vast number of high-caliber events underlines the MSC’s aspiration to remain a global platform for open, ambitious, and issue-related debate in foreign and security policy in the future.