Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone

Photo of delegates at the Athens dialogue

Melbourne, 30 January 2013 - The full report of the 'Athens Dialogue' is now available

"The Athens Dialogue . . . seeks to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in an area seething with tensions and misunderstandings. Both at the conceptual and practical level the discussions that took place were sober and pregnant with possibilities.
All this brings home to us the importance of initiatives such as the Athens Dialogue which aim to eliminate the bomb from an area rife with tensions and prone to conflict. The Athens Dialogue has addressed this problem at various levels both conceptually and procedurally - exploring obstacles standing in the way of such zones, examining the untenability of the concept of nuclear deterrence, analysing the transformation taking place in the Arab world, bringing inter-religious perspectives to bear on the problem, unravelling the economic and cultural factors that must be considered and working out schemes of verification."

Excerpt from the foreword by Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former Vice-President of the International Court of Justice

The "Athens Dialogue on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery” took place on 14-16 November 2012 at the Conference Centre of the European Public Law Organisation (EPLO) in Sounion, Greece.

It was hosted and facilitated by the Centre of Dialogue and EPLO. Around forty participants including Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, Iranian and other Middle Eastern civil society leaders, experts and former diplomats, and some diplomatic representatives took part in the Dialogue.

The gathering of Middle East representatives was marked by extraordinary respect and empathy between participants coming from the areas of conflict. Using the dialogue method developed and refined over many years by the Centre for Dialogue, the meeting generated a range of connections, new opportunities for networking and new ideas on ways forward for Middle Eastern governments and communities.

The full report [PDF 2.96MB] of the "Athens Dialogue" is now available online in four languages (English, Arabic, Hebrew and Farsi). Printed copies will be made available on request.

A three-page Summary of Recommendations [PDF 198KB] is also available online.

The Athens Dialogue is part of larger ongoing project. The research team is convened by Professor Joseph Camilleri and includes Professor Michael Hamel-Green (Victoria University), Assoc Prof Marianne Hanson (University of Queensland), Dr Michális Michael (Centre for Dialogue) and Nicholas Taylor (Centre for Dialogue/UQ). The project has been supported by La Trobe’s Institute of Human Security, the University of Queensland and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

The research has resulted in a major article: N.A.J. Taylor, Joseph A. Camilleri and Michael Hamel-Green, ‘Dialogue on Middle East biological, nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament: Constraints and opportunities’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 38(1), 2013, 78-98.