Launch of the UNIDIR Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone Project

16 September 2020
Launch of the UNIDIR Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone Project


UNIDIR gathered a high-level panel at UN to launch its three-year Middle East WMD Free Project

NEW YORK, 10 October 2019 — UNIDIR held a launch event today for its Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (ME WMDFZ) Project at the United Nations Headquarters, New York. Over 120 senior officials, diplomats, and experts attended the event. The event included welcome remarks by Ambassador Jacek Bylica, EU Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and Izumi Nakamitsu, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. A panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Renata Dwan, UNIDIR Director, and included two members of the project team, Ambassador Wael Al-Assad and Dr. Chen Zak, and two members of the project’s Reference Group, Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov and Mr. Tom Countryman. 

Ms. Nakamitsu congratulated UNIDIR and expressed appreciation to the EU for their support on this important initiative. She noted that UNIDIR’s status and autonomy lends it a unique role in facilitating research and thinking, with the ability to foster inclusive dialogue among experts.

Panellists discussed the four overarching objectives of the project: addressing research gaps on how the issue of the ME WMDFZ has evolved, supporting new thinking on regional security issues and the zone, collecting ideas and developing new proposals on how to move forward,and initiating an inclusive dialogue that cuts across national boundaries, is gender balanced, and incorporates voices of the younger generation. They also discussed timeliness of the project. The need to reflect wider regional security concerns was highlighted by several speakers. 

Following the panel Dr. Dwan invited questions from the audience. Many participants welcomed the innovative approach of the project. The event ended with words of good wishes by Ambassador Sima Bahous, president-elect of the UNSG November 2019 Conference.  

The ME WMDFZ Project is carried out with funding by the European Union.


UNIDIR is a voluntarily funded, autonomous institute within the United Nations. One of the few policy institutes worldwide focusing on disarmament, UNIDIR generates knowledge and promotes dialogue and action on disarmament and security. Based in Geneva, UNIDIR assists the international community to develop the practical, innovative ideas needed to find solutions to critical security problems. Visit:

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