Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2011

Towards a regional security regime for the middle east

October 2011

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute


The SIPRI Middle East Expert Group did not intend to design a regional security regime for the Middle East. Such a task can only be undertaken by the appropriate authorities of the region’s governments. Rather, the aim of the group was to identify and understand what issues would arise should these governments try to establish such a regime. In some cases, members of the group made recommendations, which were discussed and are presented in this report. The Expert Group began its work by examining the experience of other regions of the world in designing approaches to regional security. During this phase of the study the group members developed insight into the kinds of issues which are involved in the development of such regimes. These insights stimulated the search for ideas as to how the peoples of the Middle East might design their own regional security regime. However, the members of the Expert Group did not believe that the experiences of Asia, Europe or Latin America could simply be transferred to the Middle East. They recognized that each region of the world is unique and faces particular problems and a unique tradition of dealing with them. The group was keenly aware of the difficulties which will face the Middle East in coming decades. It was under no illusion as to how difficult it will be to manage these problems. However, all of the members of the Expert Group expressed the view that an effort must be made to develop a new approach to security in the Middle East, leading to the evolution of a comprehensive regime for security in the region. They also believed that such a regime must adopt a more inclusive approach to security than has existed to date: comprehensive and inclusive in terms of both its agenda and membership. Finally, they shared the view that any hope of addressing the long-term security issues which confront the region must rest on the foundation of an end to the Arab–Israeli dispute.