Conference of the Month: The Munich Security Conference 2024

Theodora Terracina

Six decades ago, founded by Ewald Von Kleist, the Munich Security Conference was established for senior world leaders and decision-makers to assemble and discuss the utmost pressing security issues facing the international community. From February 16 to the 18th of, 2024, the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in South Germany hosted over 450 individuals ranging from heads of state to leaders of international and non-governmental organizations to representatives from all branches of civil society.

Setting the agenda was the central inquiry: “How do we forge a future of collective success?” Taking into account the interests, objectives, and challenges facing the collective, the conference held numerous roundtable, townhall, spotlight, and panel discussions that touched upon topics from international humanitarian law and geopolitics to more detailed positions discussing the upcoming election year in the United States and the future of Ukraine and overall Transatlantic Security amidst the Russia-Ukraine War. Ultimately, the end of the three-day conference culminated in the production of the Munich Security Report 2024, exploring the lose-lose dynamics presented if governments continue to ignore positive collaboration for international benefit.

Alexei Navalny’s Death: A Foreshadow for the Discussion on Russia-Ukraine

The conference began when news of Alexei Navalny’s death arrived. Navalny, a known Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist who had been sentenced to 19 years in prison on extremist charges, was reported dead. After having been relocated to a men’s penitentiary corrective colony in the Arctic Circle, his death triggered an outcry of protests and accusations, blaming Russian authorities. As an enormous point of contention for Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin leader known for permanently silencing any dissent from oppositional leaders, many are led to believe Navalny’s death was no accident.

As his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, gave an opening speech that demanded international leaders condemn Putin and assign liability to his actions, the discussions’ remarks on the Russia-Ukraine War adopted a different tone from that of last year. As has been the case for most international talks in the near past regarding Russia’s sudden Ukrainian invasion in 2022, the message of total cooperation and support for Ukraine has changed. 

Alexei Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, gives a speech at the conference, discussing his death and asking for global leaders to condemn Putin. Image Source: Sven Hoppe/dpa (Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images), CNN.

While Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States, ever so sternly rejected the policy of isolationism once initially presented by the early forefather George Washington, she pledged America’s support to Ukraine and ultimately to NATO. However, the most recent block of aid by U.S. Congress shows the otherwise underlying sentiment on the continuation of the war. 

European parties to NATO similarly voiced their concern for the ongoing conflict. While the E.U.’s recent 50-billion-euro aid package for Ukraine was agreed upon, many felt that Europeans had more work cut out for them. However, while the message for support remained, the rampant stress of a near end was present. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “Without security, everything else is nothing.” Echoed by varying party members, a strong push for a cease appeared imminent.

The Ongoing Question of the Middle East

As international leaders and the rest of the world have followed news of the war in Gaza, ongoing since Hamas attacks on October 7 and Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza on October 27, the situation of the death of over 30,000 Palestinians was a central point of concern for international security. Presenting, yet again, the option of a ceasefire where both the release of the Israeli hostages and the chance for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza can take place, many felt the opportunity for negotiations was quickly slipping away.

Numerous options for a peace deal between Israel and Palestine were offered. As Norway’s Prime Minister reiterated the opinion that most hold, believing Israel’s actions set a model example of security challenges, the majority of speakers at the conference called for a ceasefire yet again. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, speaking on behalf of the Arab States, proposed once again their preparation for cooperation if Israel agreed to a two-state solution. However, the talks remain fruitless, as Herzog, Israel’s President, continues firm in the stance that a union cannot come from the fear that was instilled by Hamas’ attacks.

President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, addressed the audience about antisemitic texts found in Gaza. Photo Source:

Lose-Lose: The Results of the Munich Security Report

Placed against the backdrop of the end of the Cold War, a so-called “global Zeitenwende” (turning point), the Munich Security Report poses the ever-present argument: how can global governance return to its post-Cold War Era optimism and aptitude for peace, stability, and international cooperation. With the increase of geopolitical tensions – the wars of Russia- Ukraine, and Israel-Hamas, and 35 violent conflicts occurring in Africa – the old order has been pushed out, making room for a more multipolar world. The conference aimed to provide solutions to increase the global sharing of the “proverbial pie”- the famous metaphor of preference utilized to frame these discussions.

Through 8 chapters, the Report covers each global region and its disputes – Eastern Europe, the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, and the Sahel regions – and then tackles the topics of economics, the climate, and technology. Aside from the central wars of discussion, the conference covered the fate of the U.S. and China’s relationship in the Indo-Pacific, the possibility of Donald Trump’s return to office, and the recent coups that have befallen the Sahel region in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, concerning Europe, Russia, and the U.S.

In the lose-lose effect, as actors in the Global South expressed dissatisfaction with their “piece of the pie” within the global community, those within the conference aimed to rationalize and promote partnerships to cut everyone’s losses. While the international public describes facing “dark clouds” as the globe befalls conflict, political instability, and economic loss, the Munich Security Conference’s goals for mutual benefits were aptly expressed and promoted.

Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, discussing policy and providing support to Ukraine. Photo Source: Munich Security Conference

As with all international conferences aimed to promote peace, stability, and union amongst the most powerful nations, the Munich Security Conference of 2024 did just as much again. Offering an olive branch to connect the world, the discussions and concerns faced at the conference were offered a place at the table for strategic solutions to be devised.

For More Information, Please Read or Watch the Following:

Politico. “Debrief: What you need to know about the Munich Security Conference.”

NATO. “Secretary General wraps up Munich Security Conference stressing importance of NATO unity, support to Ukraine.”

Munich Security Conference. “Lose-Lose? Munich Security Report 2024.”

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Conference of the Month: …

by Theodora Terracina time to read: 5 min