Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Taking Stock of Ten Years of the GICNT

| June 14, 2016

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) is an informal international partnership dedicated to combatting nuclear and radiological terrorism. It was launched by Russia and the US at the G8 meeting in 2006, based on their shared concern about that threat, as well as determination to develop partnership capacity to address it. Over time, the GICNT has evolved into a vibrant international partnership with an action-oriented approach to enhancing nuclear security within and among its 86 partner states.

On the occasion of the GICNT’s 10th anniversary, the report Ten Years of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT): Strengths, Challenges and the Way Forwardtakes stock of the first decade of the partnership and makes suggestions about its future direction.

The report places the partnership in the broader international nuclear security framework, and describes its membership, operational structure, and evolution over the years. It notes that the focus of GICNT activities has narrowed down from eight broad nuclear security objectives, known as the Statement of Principles, to three priority areas: detection, forensics and response, each of which have their respective working group. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on regional events and exercises, as well as activities cutting across the three working groups.

The report identifies as the GICNT’s strengths: its lasting momentum; inclusive membership; flexible hands-on approach dedicated to practical capacity-building; focus on materials out of regulatory control and post-nuclear security event scenarios, as well as contributions to awareness-raising and interoperability among partner states and their respective domestic agencies and institutions.

The GICNT has also proven to be a remarkably stable platform for US-Russian cooperation in the current turbulent times. Although US-Russian relations have soured to the point that G8 no longer exists and Russia skipped the last Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), at least on the surface it seems that business as usual continues within the GICNT. This has added to the GICNT’s relative importance, creating possibilities for maintaining US-Russian cooperation in the promotion of the global nuclear security agenda.

The Nuclear Security Summit participants further highlighted the GICNT’s role in April when it was identified it as one of the five international organizations and initiatives through which global nuclear security would be promoted after the NSS process.

Despite its importance and unique contributions, the GICNT remains relatively unknown to the broader public. Indeed, the report identifies low visibility among the challenges facing the partnership, noting that this might impact negatively on its efforts to raise awareness and engage in outreach on nuclear security issues. Other challenges include limited participation in GICNT activities, lack of monitoring to assess partner state capacities, and slow growth of membership in recent years.

Looking forward, the report concludes with 10 recommendations for future themes and activities. These include: increasing focus on legal and regulatory assistance aimed at helping states adhere to relevant international instruments; identifying radioactive source security as a new priority area; building closer ties with the industry and medical community; increasing information sharing on partner state capabilities; and assessing and addressing emerging threats, such as cyber-attacks.

The report was initially commissioned to inform the preparations for the 10th Anniversary Meeting, which will be held in the Netherlands on June 15-16. Beyond that, it also seeks to contribute more generally to the international discourse on nuclear security, where the GICNT is often mentioned in passing but rarely analysed in depth.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Erästö, Tytti.Taking Stock of Ten Years of the GICNT.” Nuclear Security Matters, June 14, 2016,

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