Munich Security Conference
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (November 2011)|
The Munich Security Conference (MSC, German: Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz) is an annual conference on international security policy and has been taking place since 1963. Former names are Wehrkundetagung and Münchner Konferenz für Sicherheitspolitik. It is the world's largest gathering of its kind.
Over the past four decades the Munich Security Conference has become the most important independent forum for the exchange of views by international security policy decision-makers. Each year it brings together about 350 senior figures from more than 70 countries around the world to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.
The list of attendees includes Heads of States, Governments and International Organizations, Ministers, Members of Parliament, high-ranking representatives of Armed Forces, Science, Civil society as well as Business and Media.
The conference evolved from the Internationale Wehrkundebegegnung / Münchner Wehrkundetagung, which was founded in 1963 by Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin. The resistance fighter from the Stauffenberg circle advocated to prevent military conflicts such as the Second World War in the future and brought together leaders and experts in security policy for this reason. The first meeting was limited to about 60 participants; among them were Helmut Schmidt and Henry Kissinger. Von Kleist led the meetings until 1997; his successor who led them from 1999 until 2008 was politician and business manager Horst Teltschik (CDU). Since 2009, the conference is headed by the former diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger. Ischinger established the Munich Security Conference gGmbH non-profit foundation in 2011, which he has led since then.
The Munich Security Conference was canceled twice, in 1991 due to the Second Gulf War and 1997 as a result of the demise of Kleist-Schmenzin.  Under the leadership of Teltschik the Security Conference opened in 1999 for political, military and business leaders from Central and Eastern Europe as well as India, Japan and the People's Republic of China.
At this conference, under the theme of peace through dialogue, senior politicians, diplomats, military and security experts from the member countries of NATO and the European Union, but also from other countries such as Russia, the People's Republic of China, Japan and India are invited to discuss the current issues in security and defense policies.
The intention of the conference is to address the topical main security issues and to debate and analyze the main security challenges in the presence and the future in line with the concept of networked security. A focal point of the conference is the discussion and the exchange of views on the development of the transatlantic relations as well as European and global security in the 21st century.
The conference is organized privately and therefore not an official government event. It is used exclusively for discussion; an authorization for binding intergovernmental decisions does not exist. Furthermore, there is - contrary to usual conventions - no common final communiqué. The high-level meeting is also used to discrete background discussions between the participants. An exception is the presentation of global political decisions, such as the exchange of instruments of ratification for the New START disarmament agreement between the United States and Russia, which was held at the conclusion of the security conference in 2011.
From February 6–8, 2009, the 45th Munich Security Conference was attended by over 50 ministers and more than a dozen heads of state and government from all over the world, including US-Vice-President Joe Biden, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
In 2009 the MSC inaugurated the Ewald von Kleist Award. The new award highlights the political life and work of Ewald von Kleist, who founded the Munich Security Conference. The award will be given to prominent individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to peace and conflict resolution. The winners of the Ewald von Kleist Award were in 2009 Dr Henry Kissinger and in 2010 Javier Solana de Madariaga. Also in 2009, the MSC initiated a new event format, called MSC Core Group Meeting. This new and smaller-scale event was introduced in addition to the annual main, Munich-based meeting of the Munich Security Conference. The idea is to invite a number of distinguished and high-ranking participants to changing capitals and give them the opportunity to confidentially discuss current international security policy issues and develop sustainable solutions. Meetings took place 2009 in Washington D.C., 2010 in Moscow and 2011 in Beijing.
The 47th Munich Security Conference was held from February 4–6, 2011 and has again assembled top-level decision makers from all over the world, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov whilst Belarus has been excluded from the circle of MSC attendees because of the country’s human rights situation.
In 2011 two special features marked the growing role of the Munich Security Conference as center of attention of international security policy: European Union's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton called for the Quartet on the Middle East, consisting of the EU, Russia, the USA and the UN, to meet within the setting of the 2011 Munich Security Conference and during a ceremony on the sidelines of the conference Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged the instruments for ratifying the New START Treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) that entered into force in Munich New START.
The 48th Munich Security Conference was held from February 2–5, 2012.
The 49th Munich Security Conference featured talks concerning the Syrian civil war. Attendees included former Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib, who offered Bashar al-Assad and his aides safe passage out of the country in exchange for their resignations. 
The 50th Munich Security Conference took place on January, 31 - February, 2 2014. The main topics were the Syrian civil war and the Ukrainian Euromaidan protests. Attendees included UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, German President Joachim Gauck, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Leonid Kozhara, Vitali Klychko, Leonid Slutsky, Irakli Garibashvili, Traian Basescu and Štefan Füle participated in a discussion panel regarding the situation in Ukraine.
- Tobias Greiff. "Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz" (in German). Historisches Lexikon Bayerns. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- William S. Cohen (28 January 2014). ""Little Patience for Frivolous Speeches - A Personal Remembrance of Wehrkunde and Ewald von Kleist"". Munich Security Conference. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- Wolfgang Ischinger (13 March 2013). "Die Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz trauert um Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist" (in German). Munich Security Conference. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
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- "MSC Core Group Meeting: MSC". Securityconference.de. 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- "Egypt, terrorism lead discussion at Munich Security Conference". Dw-world.de. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- Yousaf, Farooq (May 31, 2013). "Aiding Syrian Opposition Could Be Harmful". Sharnoff's Global Views. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
- "Official agenda". securityconference.de. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
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