Nuclear Weapons | Other Publication

Responsibility Beyond Rules: Leadership for a Secure Nuclear Future

March 2013


The current nuclear security regime is not robust, adaptable, or coherent enough to adequately protect against the intensifying and evolving threats posed by nuclear terrorism in the 21st century. The governance system for nuclear security is in need of significant improvement in three areas: greater coherence and confirmed effectiveness, enhanced transparency, and increased international confidence, including through shared assessments of performance and cooperation.

The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process raised the profile of nuclear security and initiated a dialogue among more than 50 heads of state and international organizations. However, the primary focus of the first two summits in Washington (2010) and Seoul (2012) was on effective implementation of the current regime, rather than identifying and addressing its shortcomings and building a sustainable global regime for the future. The third summit, taking place in the Netherlands in 2014, offers leaders an opportunity to demonstrate global leadership and responsibility beyond today’s rules and regulations by endorsing improvements to the international nuclear security system that emphasize confirmed performance and accountability. The governance structures of the current regime cannot be reformed overnight, but the process must be initiated by 2014.

This document details five steps and 30 recommendations for significantly strengthening the global nuclear security regime and creating the foundation for its long-term effectiveness and adaptability. These steps and the recommendations result from three international workshops held by the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) in 2012. The goal is to enable substantial nuclear security regime improvements by 2020.