The Middle Powers Initiative is dedicated to the worldwide reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons, in a series of well-defined stages accompanied by increasing verification and control.
Through the Middle Powers Initiative, seven international non-governmental organizations are able to work with “middle power” governments to enhance their collective impact on the policies of the nuclear-weapon states. Middle power countries are politically and economically significant, internationally respected countries that have renounced the nuclear arms race.
Middle power governments, who already achieve security without nuclear weapons, use this experience to move the nuclear-weapon states to reduce their reliance on nuclear deterrence, adopt measures to reduce nuclear dangers, and commence negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons.
On March 19-20, 1998, former Canadian Senator and Ambassador, the Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., collaborating with seven international NGOs—the Global Security Institute, the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility, the International Peace Bureau, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—created the Middle Powers Initiative. Senator Roche was appointed Chairman of the new Initiative, which was housed under IPPNW’s Boston headquarters.
MPI set out to encourage and educate high-level policymakers, including Foreign and Prime Ministers, in middle power countries and in nuclear weapon states, to advance practical steps that reduce nuclear dangers, and commence negotiations on the elimination of nuclear weapons. Immediately after its inception, MPI began publishing strategic briefs and sending formal delegations to middle power capitals in Europe, Asia and the Pacific for consultations with leaders who can have the greatest impact on policy and lawmaking.
In January 2000, MPI held its first major consultation at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The consultation brought together high-level ambassadors from middle power and nuclear weapon states, laying the groundwork for a successful NPT Review Conference in May. The head of the US delegation, Ambassador Robert Grey, Jr., credits the Atlanta Consultation with the preparatory work that made agreement on the historic Thirteen Practical Steps possible.
In 2002, the MPI International Steering Committee and the Global Security Institute Board of Directors unanimously endorsed a resolution accepting “the Middle Powers Initiative as a program of the Global Security Institute.” Under this new agreement, MPI became part of a dynamic, integrated set of programs which include the Bipartisan Security Group and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, with the efficacy of each program enhanced by the interlocking programmatic structure of GSI.
After the failure of the NPT Review Conference in 2005, MPI created the Article VI Forum (A6F), a new and creative initiative to bring together like-minded states to examine the political, legal, and technical elements required for implementing Article VI of the NPT – the obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament.
Six meetings of the A6F were held, many co-sponsored by the host governments including Canada (Ottawa Forum, 2006), Austria (Vienna Forum, 2007), Ireland (Dublin Forum, 2008) and Germany (Berlin Forum, 2009). The Hague Forum, 2006 was co-sponsored by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations “Clingendael.”
The A6F culminated in the third Carter Center Consultation in Atlanta, which focused on producing a substantive, consensus document at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Governments of two nuclear-armed States and 20 non-nuclear States met for three days in January to discuss key proposals. The Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference reflected many of the recommendations flowing from Atlanta Consultation III.
Following the 2010 NPT Review Conference, MPI and PNND established the Framework Forum to build cooperation and political traction to implement the decision of the 2010 NPT Review Conference that ‘All States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.’
The key objectives of the Framework Forum were to explore the legal, technical and institutional elements of a politically feasible framework in order to move governments to adopt these, particularly through multilateral negotiations aimed to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.
From 2012 until 2016, MPI and PNND held ten Framework Forum events, ranging from 3 hours to 3 days each, and each including between 20 and 30 governments. The events focused primarily on proposals to the Conference on Disarmament, NPT Review Conference, United Nations General Assembly and the UN Open Ended Working Group on taking forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations (OEWG) which met during 2013 and 2016.
The 2016 OEWG recommended the start of multilateral negotiations on a legally binding agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons, a recommendation adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2016. The negotiations commenced in March 2017. MPI continues to play a key role working with governments engaged in these negotiations.