The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission
“The Commission was set up in 2003, when the then-Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh … phoned me in my last month in New York and asked me whether I would chair such a Commission .... What she said was that the Swedish Government was prepared to pay a major part of the bill, and all the rest was paid by a Canadian foundation, [The] Simons Foundation in Vancouver.”
–Dr. Hans Blix, transcript of WMD Commission Press Conference, June 1, 2006
The Simons Foundation made an early commitment to the United Nations to provide funding necessary to establish an independent international commission to examine how to reduce the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Foundation provided organizational support throughout the process as the private funder and principal sponsor. The Government of Sweden responded to the UN Under-Secretary-General’s call and formed The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission was launched in December 2003 in response to profoundly worrying developments in international security and, in particular, to investigate ways of reducing the dangers from nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons.
Chaired by Dr. Hans Blix, the former head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the WMD Commission comprised 15 eminent members, representing a broad and relevant geographical and political base with a vast reservoir of expert knowledge and political experience, spanning the governmental, academic and non-governmental arenas. The Commissioners served in their personal capacity and Dr. Jennifer Simons contributed to planning and organizing the work of the Commission.
The Simons Foundation hosted the third meeting of the WMD Commission in Vancouver, Canada, in November 2004, and co-hosted the WMD Commission Press Conference and Dinner Dialogue, “U.S. Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Goals: Honoring the Balance,” in New York on May 9, 2005.
The WMD Commission report, Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms, was presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan by Dr. Hans Blix in New York on June 1, 2006. The report contains 60 concrete proposals on how the world could be freed of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
With additional funding from The Simons Foundation, the report has since been translated into six additional languages. The Simons Foundation also assisted in financing a documentary that has also been produced by the WMD Commission.
On April 30, 2009, the WMD Commission assembled for a special, final meeting in Washington, DC, to refocus attention on the comprehensive recommendations in its 2006 Report, particularly those recommendations relating to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. With the release of the WMDC Declaration, the Commission concluded its collective work, but its members will remain active and be ready to join others in a new forceful wave to revive and achieve global disarmament.