Nuclear Deterrence and Non-Proliferation with William Alberque

On 04 December 2020, we had the pleasure to organize an event on nuclear deterrence and non-proliferation together with the Berlin scholarship holders’ group 05 of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation. For this we had Mr. William Alberque as guest, the Director of the NATO WMD Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Centre, the leading expert on NATO’s non-proliferation policy.

Mr. Alberque, or William, as he introduced himself, started with the basics and explained to us that, in principle, any plan to prevent a confrontation or to reduce the number of weapons in conflict can be considered arms control. It does not matter whether these efforts are bilateral, multilateral, or transnational, or whether they are legally or politically binding. Funnily enough, there is even unilateral arms control. 

The basis for arms control is always a shared interest to avoid unintentional conflict and/or ruinous arms races. Arms control is usually based on three components: military significancereciprocity and verifiability, and aims to detect and avert military cheating.
NATO’s key considerations regarding arms control are: Security (arms control must increase security for all), stability (arms control must prevent surprise attacks), and verifiability (arms control must provide effective and reliable means to check compliance). Thus, arms control, together with deterrence, is the tandem that protects the NATO territory. 

Arms control has been around as long as there have been weapons to protect against. However, the history of arms control in modern times can probably be started with the Quebec Agreement 1943. The Cold War made arms control immensely important and today, NATO and Mr. Alberque are still fighting with full force to get potential conflicting parties around the table to prevent conflict.

After a brief historical overview, Mr. Alberque went on to discuss NATO’s current role in arms control, which it fulfills with many committees. Although there is a special focus on Russia and China, arms control for NATO, of course, also means to get in touch with many other countries and actors to make dialogue possible.

After Mr. Alberque’s presentation there was plenty of time for Q&As, which resulted in an interesting discussion.
We would like to thank Mr. Alberque and our audience very much for their participation and are happy to say that Mr. Alberque has agreed to be available for further

A UN Security Council Reform Proposal

The United Nations (UN) is a symbol of equality, global dialogue and cross-border cooperation. Milestones such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the Geneva Convention on Refugees underpin this spirit and illustrate what the UN tries to stand for: a global community based on equality among all people that work together for a better, common future for all.
However, while equality is promoted externally, this principle is not applied in its own ranks. The perfect example therefore is the Security Council (SC), whose structure almost resembles an archaic tribe. Five chiefs decide on our world’s war and peace – regardless of whether they are directly affected by the respective conflict.

The reason why the SC still exists in this outdated form is primarily because nation states have always felt themselves to be disadvantaged in any SC reform. The five countries with veto rights (P5) naturally want to prevent any reforms that would diminish their historic power, while regional rivals are continually blocking each other in adding additional SC seats in order to prevent an imbalance in regional power relations. If all national ambitions for SC membership were accommodated however, the Council would burst at the seams.

The result? A reform blockade perpetuating a Council in which five states, motivated by their own interests – often at the expense of the international community’s benefit and to the growing displeasure of the remaining UN members – shape world events. This blockade is rooted in the rigid ‘one state, one seat’ nation-state centric logic and can hardly be overcome without moving away from it.

Therefore, I propose a regionalization of the Council – as an option for a fairer representation and distribution of power. I am for creating greater efficiency by reducing the quantity of 15 seats to nine, while simultaneously increasing the quality of the seats by assigning each of them to a certain group of countries.

There shall be no a priori grouping framework, but the chance to group according to individual member states’ criteria. This would give all members the same freedom and responsibility to group according to their own wishes and in turn promote equality. The same applies to the working procedures of the groups, which should also be freely determined by the established groups. Each country group would be represented by a member of its group in the SC according to the procedures it has set itself.

The problem of regional rivalry would be countered by the free grouping of states, since states could no longer increase their individual power through a SC seat. At the same time, the problem of efficiency and representation would be addressed, since the final decision would be taken by nine, i.e. by less entities than today, while each of these nine voices would nevertheless speak with the weight of an entire group of countries.

Furthermore, there should be some more rules to prevent state solo efforts, such as country groups having the power to negate the decision of their SC representative within 24 hours to put the item back on the agenda. This prevents representatives from disassociating themselves from their group. It should also be possible for states to change their group within multi-year cycles, provided the new group accepts them. This takes into account the possibility of changing national interests whilst simultaneously preventing opportunistic group changes.

Lastly, I propose the introduction of a case-based veto. Only the group to which the matter to be dealt with is related can veto. This would protect the national self-protection right against external intervention, whilst dissolving the archaic power structures of the P5. Affected states would no longer be dependent on an external veto but could decide for themselves whether to accept the proposed solutions of the world community.

By moving away from the nation-state centricity, the reform would promote fair global representation by allowing all states to have their say according to their own chosen criteria. At the same time, only countries that are directly affected by resolutions could block them, which would be a decisive step towards a more equal global power structure. These advantages could be achieved without a loss of efficiency, as the number of seats would even be reduced.

Unfortunately, this proposal, originally formulated by Niccolò Beduschi[1], would require a UN Charta change. It would have to be adopted by a two-third majority in the General Assembly and ratified by all P5 members.

Bottomline: It is very unlikely to happen. None of the P5 members would accept relinquishing power as required for this reform. But true guidance is not only about leading from the front. Good leadership also includes stepping down when it serves the purpose of the organization. Otherwise one is nothing more than a proud captain on a sinking ship.

[1] Beduschi, Niccolò (2016). The Last Reform: ‘Regionalistic Logic’ for a New UN Security Council. Available at: [Accessed 29 May 2020]

Mentoring with Mr. Lorenz Meyer-Minnemann (NATO)

On March 29th, the Hertie School Security Club had the pleasure to welcome Mr. Lorenz Meyer-Minnemann to its first official mentoring session with members of the club. Mr. Meyer-Minnemann is the Executive Coordinator and First Deputy Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO and thus part of NATO’s senior management team. After graduating from Kings College in London, Mr. Meyer-Minnemann found his way to NATO through an internship. He remained within the organization and worked his way up to the senior level. Now he advises Secretary General Stoltenberg and is also responsible for the recruitment of key NATO leaders.

In the mentoring session students were given Mr. Meyer-Minnemann’s 10 key career insights, which he considers to be particularly important:

(1) Don’t obsess over career plans. Having a career goal is good, but you shouldn’t be blind to other, spontaneously arising, opportunities. Enjoy the journey!

(2) Everything you do in a professional setting is a job interview. Perform every task as if it was of the utmost importance. Maintain a consistently high working level. Also remember to maintain your networks, not only with people who are currently influential, but also with your colleagues and peers. You never know which positions they might hold in the future.

(3) Keep your ego in check. Search where you can contribute with your abilities rather than disrupt with your ego. Smart and well-lead organizations will identify those who want to make a difference. And big presumptuous egos are never liked.

(4) If your performance is not recognized, it may be due to the organization, but also to you. Always consider both possibilities.

(5) Reflect on yourself! Learning never ends. Be self-reflective and look for friends who can honestly reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.

(6) Respect hierarchy in a hierarchical organization. This does not mean that you always have to agree with your superiors, but be aware of your place and participate in the progress of the organization.

(7) Be humble but not intimidated. Understand that everyone starts small at the beginning and that everyone can grow. If you have made it to your position, there is a reason for that!

(8) Be sure that what you do is what you are interested in. Only those who are really interested in their work do it really well.

(9) Maintain distance between your professional and personal self. You are not your job and your job does not define your self-worth. Power can be given to you, but also be taken away. Create a clear separation between your personal and professional happiness. Everybody gets professionally rejected at some point. This however should not throw your personal life off course.

(10) Be a good person! People with a kind heart and emotional intelligence are not only good for any organization, but also good for our world.

Finally, he reminded us to be critical. These tips have helped him in advancing his career and stem from his personal experience, but do of course not reflect the absolute truth. We never stop learning and anyone can be a good teacher!

We thank Mr. Meyer-Minnemann very much for these personal insights and his advice. We are sure that these key insights have inspired many of the participants.

We also look forward to hosting further mentoring sessions and sharing our experiences with our audience!

At the Körber Foundation Global Leaders Dialogue with Jens Stoltenberg, General Secretary of NATO

On 7 November 2019, we had the pleasure of being invited to the Körber Global Leaders Dialogue by the Körber Foundation. 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and immediately after Emmanuel Macron’s remarkable Economist interview, in which he diagnosed NATO’s brain death, the Körber Foundation had invited NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to share his views on current global security risks and why NATO remains relevant today and is indeed not brain dead. In the birthday speech (NATO celebrated its 70th anniversary) on “NATO at 70: The Bedrock of European and Transatlantic Security”, Stoltenberg repeatedly stated that the alliance is imperative for the European and Transatlantic security architecture. 

In light of many different sovereign states with sometimes contrasting interests, he stressed the long lasting perseverance of the organisation. Although it cannot be denied that there is friction between the Allies, one of its biggest achievements is the discourse and collaboration of its members, the sovereign democracies. Differences do not block NATO, but are part of its essence and broaden the scope of perception. They have always existed and will always exist. 

When asked whether NATO was indeed brain dead, Stoltenberg denied enthusiastically. He stated that NATO was working well, even if it might not seem so to the outside world. With a smile, Stoltenberg related this controversy to his previous position as Prime Minister of Norway. Having witnessed the political world, he confirmed that many politicians were masters of good publicity, lacking any action to follow their spoken words. For NATO quite the opposite is true: Even if the publicity of NATO sometimes cannot completely show that NATO works, it does so and fulfils its core purpose: the protection of its member states’ populations.

Whether this can really be maintained and how NATO will develop in the future remains to be seen. In any case, there is no lack of challenges, in which the alliance must prove itself. 

NATO certainly does not lack smart leadership. At the Körber Foundation, we had the pleasure to meet an outstanding capable chief diplomat, intent on investing all his time and energy in holding the alliance together. To what extent this is feasible after Turkey’s invasion in Syria, verbal attacks of the US president against NATO allies and huge disparities in military spending and threat priority within the alliance will be seen. 

The HSSC would like to thank the Körber Foundation and Jens Stoltenberg’s team for the pleasure of attending such an informative and thought-provoking event on the future of NATO.