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Security Policy Challenges

MSC Special Edition 2021

Traditionally held in February, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) is the world's leading forum for foreign and security policy. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the MSC 2021 had to be postponed to a later date.
In order to provide senior leaders with a globally visible platform at this critical time, the MSC decided to host a Special Edition. The MSC Special Edition featured key issues that will be revisited at the main conference and in other MSC formats throughout the year.


On February 19, at the very time and place the MSC 2021 would have kicked-off normally, some of the world’s most senior decision-makers came together virtually for the MSC Special Edition 2021In a live broadcast, they discussed how to rebuild and renew the transatlantic alliance and highlight the areas in which transatlantic and international cooperation are most urgently needed.

The content to be read here is part of the Official Website of the Munich Security Conference.
More about the MSC Special Edition can be read on >>

Joe Biden, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson, António Guterres, Jens Stoltenberg, Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, John KerryBill Gates, and Markus Söder participated in the event titled Beyond Westlessness: Renewing Transatlantic Cooperation, Meeting Global Challenges.

Angela Merkel

Federal Chancellor, Germany


António Guterres

Secretary-General, United Nations


Bill Gates

Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Boris Johnson

Prime Minister,

United Kingdom


Charles Michel


European Council


Emmanuel Macron


French Republic


Jens Stoltenberg

Secretary General,



Joe Biden




John Kerry

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, USA


Markus Söder

Minister President,

Free State of Bavaria


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus




Ursula von der Leyen


European Commission

Munich Security Conference

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) is an annual conference on international security policy that has taken place in Munich, Bavaria 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 is held annually in February. The venue is the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. 


"Westlessness", MSC Chairman Ambassador Ischinger reminded listeners, was the theme of the MSC 2020. The term described "the sense that the world, but also the West itself, was getting less Western, less rule-based, less value-oriented." In his view, the past year had largely confirmed this diagnosis as "many of the geopolitical certainties that have defined the post-Cold War era continue to be dangerously eroding." Yet, the past year had also offered signs of hope, therefore the MSC Special Edition sought to look beyond Westlessness and find ways to rebuild the transatlantic partnership, as well as to identify joint opportunities to tackle global challenges such as climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.


First US President to speak at MSC

For the first time in its 58-year history, a sitting President of the United States of America addressed the MSC. In 2019, Joe Biden promised: “We will be back”. He kept his promise and chose Munich for his very first message to his Allies and partners around the world. President Biden made a passionate case of global engagement and democracy, reassuring allies and friends.

"I'm sending a clear message to the world: America is back. And we are not looking backward, we are looking forward together."

Joe Biden,

President of the United States of America


Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, has outlined some important security policy challenges. She stressed that multilateralism should be the “foundation of our political activity” – and reaffirmed her commitment to the transatlantic partnership.

Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored the fact that developments over the last year have clearly demonstrated how “important and right” it is to commit to multilateralism as the “foundation of our political activity”. This is becoming particularly obvious in our ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. We can only fight it together. 


The targets for climate action, biodiversity, the fight against global terrorism, and the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) can likewise only be achieved "if we pool our forces in all fields" and if we understand security "as a concept of networked security, multidimensional security" said Angela Merkel.

Angela Merkel also outlined two major tasks for the transatlantic partnership. Firstly, the development of a transatlantic Russia agenda, covering both offers of cooperation and also making “very clear where the differences lie”. The second is a common agenda on China. China has increased its global outreach – “and we as a transatlantic alliance and as the world’s democracies must have something to set against this”. This is currently true regarding vaccine supplies to developing countries and strengthening multilateral organizations.


"We now need to define common strategic challenges and common approaches to address these. I see the transatlantic partnership at the heart of these efforts. Germany is ready for a new chapter in the transatlantic partnership."

Angela Merkel,

Federal Chancellor of Germany


Road to Munich 2021

In order to continue vital debates until the Munich Security Conference 2021 can take place in person at some point in the coming months, the MSC Special Edition was the kick-off for a series of events and initiatives under the title Road to Munich 2021. Stops on this road will include virtual high-level events on key aspects of the transatlantic partnership as well as interactive workshops and tabletop exercises to prepare the ground for the MSC 2021.

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