Shaping our NATO: Young Voices on the Warsaw Summit 2016
Our new policy workshop competition gives students and recent graduates the opportunity to reflect on the most pressing issues facing NATO today and to shape the future of the Alliance. Five winners will receive a trip to Berlin to present the collective ideas to decision-makers.
Update: This competition is now closed for submissions. You can read the published articles:
Atlantic-community.org is excited to announce a unique and stimulating competition that brings together a new generation from both sides of the Atlantic. We want promising students and young graduates to tell us their ideas on NATO: from increasing solidarity amongst its members, to suggesting ways that it should learn from its mistakes and adapt to change. The competition is part of atlantic-community.org's ongoing effort to empower young people in the transatlantic debate and develop solutions to important international issues through online collaboration.
The five winners of the competition will be offered a fully-covered trip to Berlin to present their ideas to eminent policy-makers and will become honorary fellows of the Atlantic Community. Furthermore, forty of the best candidates will have the opportunity to partake in our unique online policy workshops and draft a memo that will be presented to NATO representatives and decision-makers from the foreign and defense ministries.
Our competition has two components: either a short op-ed article of less than 1000 words or a three minute long video, where you propose your ideas on one of four topic areas. Shortlisted candidates will then participate in an online workshop where you will work with peers from throughout NATO member states to develop a memorandum for policy makers. You'll be asked both to defend your own position and arrive at a workable consensus, just like in a real policy-making process.
Submission deadlines: June 19 to July 10, 2016, depending on the category chosen. See below.
At the heart of our competition "Shaping Our NATO: Young Voices on the Warsaw Summit" is a desire to get undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent graduates to contribute their policy proposals on key issues on the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw. We want to feature ideas from young, talented students from all across NATO member countries and empower them so that they may have real impact on the Alliance's decision making process. In September, winners will be given the opportunity to discuss their ideas directly with ambassadors, policy-makers and NATO representatives, who will respond to the proposals and provide constructive critique in light of the recent summit.
You don't have to be an expert!
We're open to new ideas and new perspectives. All you need are thoughtful policy suggestions – or even just one - and some good supporting arguments. You don't have to be an expert! We strongly encourage anyone with interesting policy ideas to participate, even if you have little experience writing in English: the articles will be edited for grammar and consistency by a native English speaker. In return for your contributions, we hope to reward you with a unique and enjoyable experience: one that will enable you to participate, learn and contribute to the policy making process in a vibrant international setting.
Learn, Network, Communicate!
So tell us how you want to shape your future NATO and you could have the chance to present your ideas to leading policy makers in the beating political heart of Europe.
- All contributors who send noteworthy submissions will have their article published and promoted on our popular online policy forum: atlantic-community.org.
- Forty articles, 10 from each category, will be carefully selected. These shortlisted authors will be asked to take part in a dynamic online debate. This will be a fantastic opportunity to collaborate in writing a joint policy memo with direct support from our staff here at the Atlantic Initiative. Decision-makers will respond to the collaboratively written policy memo.
- Five winners, one from each category, plus the best second-place participant, will receive a fully-covered round trip for four nights to Berlin in September, where they will present their policy memos.
During their stay in Germany, the winners will meet top civil servants from the German Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, and have private tours of major government institutions, such as the German Parliament and the headquarters of the Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin, Poland.
The highlight of the trip will be the opportunity to present and discuss their ideas to renowned ambassadors, think tanks and representatives from NATO.
- Three runners-up, in addition to the winners, will also be invited to become honorary fellows here at atlantic-community.org.
The competition is open to all citizens of NATO member countries aged 28 or younger. If you are ineligible to participate and win, you can still submit an article. If it is well-argued, we will publish it alongside the competition articles as we appreciate an inclusive debate.
How to Participate
- Register Now!
Become a member of atlantic-community.org. Click on the "Join!" button in the top-right corner. Once you've registered, you'll receive continuous updates about the competition.
- Submit an Article/Video
Write a short 700-1000 word op-ed style article addressing one question from the four categories listed below. The article must be written in English and should feature your ideas relating to the chosen topic. It should clearly explain your thoughts, outline why your recommendations are useful or better than current approaches, and describe how your recommendations could be effectively implemented. It should be free of technical jargon and be accessible and understandable to a general audience. Ideas and arguments are more important than literary style. We are open to broad interpretations of your chosen question, so do not feel like you have to limit yourself too much. However, we would like your policy recommendations to be feasible and specific. Feel free to present your work in a creative style. See our article How to Write an Op-Ed for further suggestions and guidelines.
In view of the changing media panorama and our commitment to fully engage with younger generations, this year we've decided to introduce video as an alternative submission format. Your video can be up to three minutes long, and must not include any copyright-infringing material. The video will be gauged on the relevance of the arguments made, not its technical merits. Both types of submission will be judged under the same criteria, and no preference will be given to either format. We simply want to expand the spaces for the transatlantic community to express their ideas and experiment with a format that is becoming increasingly important.
All submissions will be judged on the quality of the ideas and the construction of arguments, not on the opinions expressed. All submissions must be the sole original work of the participant. Jointly authored work cannot be accepted.
Please note that each category has a different deadline for submission. See below.
Submit your article through atlantic-community.org by clicking here.
- Be Part of the Online Debate
In each category, articles will be put up for discussion in the Open Think Tank at atlantic-community.org. During the week, all authors will be invited to make constructive comments and criticisms of each other's submissions and defend their own arguments. We will take into special consideration participants who engage, contribute and mediate discussions amongst the other contributors. The shortlisted authors will then come together in an online workshop to construct a joint policy paper, the Atlantic Memo, out of the best ideas from the shortlisted articles, with assistance from our editorial team. Although there are two weeks assigned for this section, the work should take less than ten hours. Apart from one or two short conference calls, participants can work on the Memo whenever it suits them.
Our independent and international expert jury of think tankers, academics and journalists will then judge the top 5 shortlisted articles. Two-thirds of the judgement will be based on the op-ed, while one-third will be judged on the discussion in the comment section and participation in the online workshop.
Today's decision-makers are preoccupied with the many contemporary threats and might not recognize the risks, enemies, weapons, tactics or other challenges that could threaten the Alliance in ten years.
Question: What could surprise NATO in 2026? What scenario is NATO currently insufficiently addressing? What can realistically be done to prepare?
Deadline for submissions: June 19
Memo Workshop: June 27-July 10
Question: What do you consider to be NATO's biggest mistake in the last 25 years? What lessons should be drawn and how to prevent similar mistakes in the future?
Deadline for submissions: June 26
Memo Workshop: July 4-17
By participating voluntarily in the NATO Defense Planning Process (NDPP), Allies can harmonize their national defense plans with those of NATO to identify and develop the capabilities needed for the full range of NATO missions. This coordination is particularly important given the limited defense budgets after nearly a decade of financial and economic crises in Europe. Even an increase in defense spending might not strengthen NATO if the national defense planning is not coordinated and leads only to more duplication but does not address shortcomings. Yet the NDPP has not realized its full potential due to the many different national preferences and some concerns of compromising sovereignty. Smart Defence and the Framework Nation Concept are two initiatives to enable NATO members to pool, share, develop, acquire, operate and maintain military capabilities in a cooperative way to avoid duplications and make defense budgets more efficient.
Question: How can some NATO member countries be encouraged to participate more actively in the NATO Defense Planning Process? How could NATO Members coordinate better to generate the modern defense capabilities that the Alliance as a whole needs? What are the best practices that could serve as role models in a renewed culture of cooperation?
Deadline for submissions: July 3
Memo Workshop: July 11-24
Unity is NATO's key strength; however, member states often perceive the severity of various security risks and threats differently. For instance, NATO's eastern members such as Poland and the Baltic states have been advocating for NATO bases in their countries to strengthen collective defense in light of a resurgent Russia, while the Southern member countries see a bigger threat in the growing instability in North Africa and the Middle East. Geographic position, lessons from history, and economic interdependence are just a few examples of factors that shape a nation's perceptions on defense strategy and divide opinion on NATO policy. Therefore, it is important that NATO mitigates these differences and provides a unified strategy that all member countries and their publics can fully support.
Question: How can NATO improve cohesion, and strengthen consensus on how to deal with the many different threats? What practical steps can be taken to increase empathy and solidarity between the publics in the NATO Members countries?
Deadline for submissions: July 10
Memo Workshop: July 18-31
Trip to Berlin
The winners will arrive in Berlin on Monday October 3, and leave on Friday Ocotober 7.
If you think you've got some ideas but need to read more about some of the issues, check out some of our helpful resources. Remember to register and you'll receive updates when new resources and information are posted. Additionally, you can review our 6 tips that will help put you on the right path to writing a great submission here.
Consult our reading recommendations on the Warsaw Summit to keep you up to date with all the latest developments on the NATO agenda.
We invite you to read over some testimonials from the participants of the "Your Ideas, Your NATO 2012" competition here to get a better sense of what the "Shaping Our NATO" competition seeks to accomplish and what skills can be gained from participating.
Atlantic-community.org is the first online foreign policy think tank. With over 9000 members, our mission is to encourage open, independent, and democratic dialogue on the challenges facing Europe and North America. We especially want to provide a voice for a new generation of thinkers and young leaders, giving them the opportunity to publish and debate side by side with established experts and to have their policy ideas considered by senior officials. This gives our members real political influence, while decision makers benefit from the next generation's fresh ideas.
Our main section is Your Opinion, where op-eds written by members and edited by our staff are published on a daily basis. Readers comment on the ideas and suggestions presented in the articles, and we periodically condense these debates into Atlantic Memos – executive summaries that harness the collective intelligence of the community, and present the best solutions and policy recommendations. These memos are sent to policy-makers in over 27 countries in Europe and North America. Atlantic-community.org is a project of Atlantische Initiative e.V., a German non-profit organization dedicated to building and strengthening a strong transatlantic community and a culture of constructive foreign policy debate. See our About Us page for more information.
The competition has been made possible by generous contributions from the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation and the EuroAtlantic Foundation.
If you encounter technical difficulties with your submission or have any other questions regarding the competition, please contact the editorial team at:
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