With 31 members, the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is the G7’s largest working group. Alongside the G7 countries and the European Union, Australia, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine are working to prevent the misuse of weapons-grade material.
Until 2011, the GP members primarily focused on securing former Soviet armed forces’ nuclear and chemical remnants. With the successful conclusion of most of the projects in the CIS countries, biological security measures were defined as a further priority, as was the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
From Kananaskis (2002) to Deauville (2011): the Global Partnership shifts its focus
Since its establishment, the Global Partnership has helped to reduce chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) proliferation risks. At the Kananaskis Summit, the members undertook to spend a total of 20 billion US dollars on preventing terrorists from obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction and weapons-grade material. In this context, members are also working to secure and destroy all remaining stocks (some originating from the Second World War) that do not serve current defence purposes. The focus was on stocks in the successor states to the former Soviet Union in particular.
In the following years, Germany contributed a total of 1.5 billion US dollars to projects in Russia whose purpose was to destroy chemical weapons, secure nuclear weapons, materials and facilities, and disarm and dispose of decommissioned nuclear submarines.
The Global Partnership during Germany’s G7 Presidency in 2014/15
During its Presidency of the G7 from 1 July 2014 to 31 December 2015, Germany also chaired the Global Partnership. Like the US and the UK before it, the German Presidency focused on biosecurity.
Germany had already set up the German Biosecurity Programme in 2013. By 2021, over 60 million euro had been provided for projects in 14 partner countries. One purpose of the German Biosecurity Programme is to help prevent the misuse of pathogens by state and non-state players (e.g. bioterrorism).
In addition to this, resources from the GP fund were used to finance measures in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in East Africa.
The Global Partnership since 2016
Along with numerous members of the Global Partnership, Germany is continuing to carry out support measures to improve biological and chemical security and nuclear safety in Ukraine. Since 2016, the Global Partnership has also focused on the growing threat of the use of chemical weapons by non-state actors in Syria and Iraq, as well as on the work primarily carried out by G7 countries to destroy chemical weapon stockpiles in Libya.
Furthermore, the Global Partnership has focused in recent years on pooling resources for effective measures in the fight against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear security and biosecurity with a focus on Africa are among the priorities of the UK’s Presidency of the Global Partnership in 2021.