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Dialogue with the British Arms Industry

Building on previous research, the Oxford Research Group concludes that the main security issues of concern for the UK in the future are likely to arise from climate change, marginalisation of the majority world and competition over resources, and that none of these is suited to a conventional armed response. A research project is currently underway to open dialogue with key actors in UK defence and security policy-making, especially those engaged in armaments production and export, to discuss the implications of these issues for their scenario planning and strategy, including the need to plan for diversification.

The new project has close ties both to ORG’s Sustainable Security programme, and to our original dialogue with nuclear weapons decision-makers which started in 1986. This led to the 'Charney Manor meetings' between officials and scientists from UK, USA, the [then] Soviet Union, France and China, led by our founder Dr Scilla Elworthy, who is also leading the current research project.

Preliminary research has been completed to draw up a detailed account of all the major departments, committees and industries involved, and to map the decision-making process. As in ORG’s previous work, a number of interlocutors have been selected whose wisdom and experience enables them to be competent to open a one-to-one dialogue with policy-makers in this area, who include politicians, civil servants and industry leaders. The dialogue will include discussion of future security issues for the UK and the fresh responses required to respond to them. In collaboration with ORG researchers, the most effective initiatives to address future security issues will be explored through these dialogues.

These individual discussions may result in a Charney Manor-style meeting, with a number of policy-makers coming together with experts on sustainable security for a dialogue on how best to address “Future Security”. All such work will be confidential, as in the past. Ultimately it may result in a publication co-authored with some of the major players in the field.