Launched in 2014, the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security (YGLN) is a project aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding among emerging leaders from the United States, Russia, Ukraine and Europe in order to rebuild trust and offer fresh ideas on how to improve the Euro-Atlantic security environment.
In recent years, it has become apparent that the most significant obstacle to Euro-Atlantic security is the lack of trust between Russia and the West – a challenge that has been fueled by historical animosities and uncertainties in the European and global security landscape. This dynamic has both contributed to, and been exacerbated by, the crisis in Ukraine. Indeed, the Ukraine crisis has exposed major differences on important political, security and economic issues between Russia and the West that undermine cooperation, increase tensions, raise costs and threaten to draw a new dividing line through Europe.
In this environment it is essential that future generations learn to communicate with one another and ultimately avoid making the same mistakes that have plagued previous eras. In particular, a platform for rebuilding trust needs to be developed, such that future leaders can work together on a wide range of interconnected challenges.
Towards this end, the Nuclear Threat Initiative launched the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security in 2014, in cooperation with partner organizations in the United States, Europe and Russia. Initially called the Younger Generation Task Force on Ukraine and Euro-Atlantic Security, the group was combined in 2015 with an effort sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative’s Next Generation Leadership Network) to form the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security.
Today, the Network includes 60 young professionals in their 20s and 30s from 24 countries across the Euro-Atlantic community, with specialists in economics, law, public policy, journalism, and business. The Network divides its membership into four working groups:
- Security Working Group
- Economics Working Group
- Civil Society Working Group
- Rule of Law Working Group
Each working group is tasked with facilitating dialogue on relevant contemporary policy issues related to Ukraine, in particular, and the Euro-Atlantic region, more generally. The Network’s initial focus continues to address the complex challenges facing Ukraine’s future in the European community – but it has broadened its focus to include discussion of contemporary policy issues facing the entire region, including terrorism and migration.
The Network is undertaking a range of activities that will evolve over time as the group continues to grow. These include:
Building Trust Through Dialogue & Debate.
The YGLN provides members an opportunity to meet twice a year to discuss a wide range of policy issues and build relationships among the Network participants. Members of the Working Groups meet independently and in plenary sessions to explore in depth specific substantive issues and prepare panel discussions, presentation topics, and papers for publication and discussion during Network meetings and, in the future, at other public events.
Establish a Platform for Ongoing Communication
The YGLN has a website where
Network members can publish analytic papers, post commentaries, circulate new
research, and engage in ongoing dialogue in between the Network meetings.
Engage Key Policymakers & Stakeholders
The YGLN offers a platform for emerging leaders to engage with current and former senior government officials, as well as members of civil society, on public policy issues facing the Euro-Atlantic region. Through these discussions Network members gain a better understanding of lessons learned from previous conflicts and how they might apply to both the current crisis in Ukraine and the broader Euro-Atlantic security environment. As the Network matures and members develop specific policy recommendations, the group will also take a more active role in presenting their analytic work to key government and civil society leaders.
The Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security is supported by sponsoring organizations throughout the United States, Europe and Russia. They include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The European Leadership Network, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung; the Latvian Institute of International Affairs; and the Russian International Affairs Council. These organizations provide both financial and in-kind support and substantive advice, and work with the members of the Network to strengthen their voice and provide access to senior decision makers. By leveraging the expertise and resources of these organizations, the Network can maximize its impact and build on the important work being done by these and other institutions.