Engaging Practitioners: The CSS hosts Ambassador Laura Holgate

by Rizwan Ladha

On November 15, the Center for Strategic Studies, in partnership with the Fletcher Science Diplomacy Club, hosted Laura S.H. Holgate, the former U.S. Representative to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to give a talk to students and CSS faculty and fellows at The Fletcher School on her experience in preventing global threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

As a high-level diplomat and former Senior Director for WMD Terrorism and Threat Reduction on the National Security Council from 2009 to 2016, Ambassador Holgate was able to provide insight into the importance and success of multilateralism in stopping transnational security threats, including nuclear insecurity, chemical weapons, and global health challenges. Her remarks, which focused on the role of “minilateralism” in facilitating broader multilateralism, touched on the Obama-era Nuclear Security Summits, the case of successful international cooperation in eliminating nearly all of Syria’s chemical weapons, and the development of actionable targets leading to a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. In all three of these instances, according to Ambassador Holgate, the initial formation of a coalition of like-minded states provided the spark necessary to gain broad support and deep commitments from additional states who otherwise may not have allocated policy and financial resources to these causes.

Ambassador Holgate has dedicated her career to a life of service tackling global security challenges, and her success in reaching the highest levels of decision-making in the course of her service is admirable. Moreover, as a woman in national security, she serves as a role model and inspiration for many students and young practitioners who see in her their highest ambitions realized. It was a pleasure to bring her to campus, and we look forward to having her back in future.

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