Skip to main content

Disarmament Orientation Course 2021

This online orientation course for Geneva disarmament diplomats is designed and presented jointly by UNIDIR and UNODA, and will be held from 8-10 and 15-17 June 2021. The course consists of six thematic modules, with each module comprising a reading list, an introductory video and a 120-minute interactive online videoconference session. Participation in the interactive sessions is mandatory for course participants. The reading list is available through the links below, and may be freely accessed. Please note that these course materials are aimed at a specialist professional audience. The views and opinions expressed in the course materials do not necessarily represent the official positions of the United Nations on any issue.

 

        

 

PROGRAMME:

 

Module 1: Scene-setting: context, history and mechanisms (8 June)

Key learning objectives:

  1. Understand the relationship and interactions between the global political and security environment and disarmament diplomacy.
  2. Know the roles and operations of the key components of the multilateral disarmament machinery.

Topics

  • The global security context: An overview of current and recent developments (including COVID-19) and their implications for arms control and disarmament and the UN Secretary-General’s Agenda.
  • Disarmament machinery: SSOD I and the development of the existing disarmament machinery; the role, history and current situation of the Conference on Disarmament; other mechanisms within and outside the UN.
  • Panelists will include UNODA and UNIDIR representatives, along with senior government representatives and academics.

 

Module 2: Weapons of mass destruction (9 June)

Key learning objectives:

  1. Understand the key issues and treaties in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and acquire an overview of the challenges and opportunities for the tenth NPT Review Conference, and challenges and opportunities associated with the entry into force of the TPNW.
  2. Understand the key issues and treaties related to biological and chemical weapons and acquire an overview of the challenges and opportunities for the Ninth BWC Review Conference.

Topics

  • Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation: The NPT, an overview, preparing for the postponed Tenth Review Conference, and challenges and opportunities for the 2022-2025 review cycle, and the WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East.
  • Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW): humanitarian dimension of nuclear disarmament; issues to be discussed and decided by upcoming 1MSP.
  • Biological and chemical weapons: Biological weapons: Insights into issues arising from the intersessional period 2018 to the present, current issues approaching the Ninth Review Conference, impact of technological developments in the life sciences on biological weapons control, the work of the Geneva-based BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU). Chemical Weapons: brief insights into the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
  • Panelists will include academic experts, UNIDIR, senior government representatives, a representative of the BWC ISU, and a representative of civil society.

 

Module 3: Cross cutting disarmament issues: Gender, the humanitarian perspective, and financing aspects (10 June)

Key learning objectives:

  1. Explore how structural issues affect all areas of disarmament diplomacy.
  2. Consider the roles, viewpoints and potential contributions of different actors working on multilateral disarmament; discuss gender representation and perspectives on disarmament.
  3. Understanding the importance of financing aspects for multilateral disarmament processes.

Topics

  • Gender issues: gender representation in disarmament processes; gender Disarmament Impact Group; gender perspectives on disarmament and international security. 
  • International Humanitarian Law (IHL): the relationship between IHL and disarmament; role of IHL in creating and implementing disarmament and arms control treaties.
  • Financing aspects: the role of finances in disarmament diplomacy and implementation of multilateral agreements.
  • Panelists will include UNIDIR and UNODA experts, government and civil society representatives.

 

Module 4: Conventional weapons (15 June)

Key learning objectives:

  1. Acquire an overall understanding of the various treaties and processes dealing with conventional weapons in Geneva, and their key political and practical issues involved.
  2. Understand the motivations, advantages and limitations of the different approaches and legal bases.

Topics

  • Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW): The CCW, its Protocols and processes: looking towards upcoming meetings and the Review Conference.
  • Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC): implementing the Oslo plan of action.
  • Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM): following a generic introduction, the module will address the Second Review Conference and look forward to the next five years of implementation of the Convention.
  • The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): preview of conference of states parties, work of the ATT Secretariat.
  • Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA): progress on discussions on a political declaration.
  • Panelists will include UNIDIR and UNODA experts, government and civil society representatives, as well as representatives from the APMBC-ISU and the ATT Secretariat.

 

Module 5: Space and missiles (16 June)

Key learning objectives: 

  1. Understand the key issues and emerging challenges for multilateral governance of space, missiles, and related technologies.
  2. Acquire an overview of current multilateral processes regulating missile technologies.

Topics

  • Space: the PAROS process; the new UNGA resolution and its implications; discussions on a Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT); advances in dual use space-related technologies’.
  • Missiles: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Hague Code of Conduct, hypersonic weapons.
  • Panelists to include UNODA and civil society, government representatives, UNIDIR space and missile experts, academics. 

 

Module 6: ICT, Cyber and LAWS (17 June)

Key learning objectives:

  1. Acquire an overview of the implications for international security and arms control of current and emerging information and AI technologies.
  2. Understand the roles and operations of the multilateral processes established to address these issues.

Topics

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): military applications of AI/ML; AI/ML implications for verification of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation regimes.
  • Cyber: the two UN processes addressing international security and the use of information and communication technologies: the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts.
  • Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS): including the CCW Group of Governmental Experts on LAWS.
  • Panelists will include UNIDIR and academic experts, representatives of the ICRC, ICT industry and civil society.

 

If you would like to view the programme and materials of the Disarmament Orientation Course 2020, click here.