Speaking to an audience comprised of students and fellows, former diplomats, military personnel and journalists, Mr Stoltenberg in his address, entitled, “NATO: Projecting Stability Beyond our Borders”, provided a historical overview of NATO and outlined the many ways in which the organisation assists nation states around the world in preserving peace and security. He stated that NATO had the same goals as many other organisations working in Geneva, namely to create a space for order and to solve conflicts through negotiations instead of the use of arms.
“NATO is the most successful alliance in history,” said Mr Stoltenberg, who currently serves as NATO’s 13th Secretary General since the organization’s inception in 1949. He credits the organisation’s success to its ability to change and adapt to an evolving environment. Mr Stoltenberg said that similarly to 1949 and 1989, 2014 would also go down in history as a pivotal year primarily because of the rise of ISIL/DAESH and the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia. An initially unknown movement, ISIL/DAESH, presented a fundamentally new threat and challenge to NATO because of its use of violence, brutality, technology and the overall speed in which it has grown and acquired new territories. Additionally, Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was deemed a violation of sovereignty by the international community.
In light of the challenges that NATO faces, Mr Stoltenberg said that the organisation had two aims. The first is to strengthen the collective defence in Europe and the second is to project stability by helping nation states build up local forces, capacity and institutions. “Prevention is much better than intervention," he said. "When our neighbours are more secure, we are more secure."
Moderators for the event included Xavier Colin, a journalist and Associate Fellow at the GCSP, and Stephanie Hofmann, an Associate Professor from the Graduate Institute. Mr Stoltenberg took questions from the audience, and when asked about the intersection between capacity building and gender equality, Mr Soltenberg responded by stating that the two issues were complimentary. Using capacity-building efforts in Afghanistan as an example, he recounted meeting female pilots being trained by local forces, something unthinkable even a decade ago.
“Geneva is a platform for peace,” said Mr Soltenberg and stated that the Maison de la paix, the GCSP and the Graduate Institute served as “great expressions of dialogue, diplomacy and education.”