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Disarmament Orientation Course

The annual Disarmament Orientation Course for Geneva-based disarmament diplomats is designed and jointly presented by UNIDIR and the Geneva Branch of the Office for Disarmament Affairs.

The 2023 edition took place as an in-person event at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, between 18-28 September 2023.

The course consists of five thematic modules, with each module comprising an interactive session as well as a reading list and additional resources for preparation. The 2023 agenda and course material are available through the links below, and may be freely accessed.

If you would like to view the programme and materials of the Online Disarmament Orientation Course 2022, click here.

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.





Module 1: Scene-setting: context, main mechanisms, current trends and developments

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the relationship and interactions between the global political and security environment and disarmament diplomacy.

  • Acquire knowledge about the roles and operations of the key components of the multilateral disarmament machinery.

  • Understand linkages between multilateral, regional and national agendas.


  • The global security context: An overview of current and recent developments and their implications for arms control and disarmament.

  • Disarmament machinery: the role, history and current situation of the Conference on Disarmament; other mechanisms within and outside the UN.

Module 2:  Weapons of mass destruction

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the key issues and treaties in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and acquire an overview of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), verification, and consequences of nuclear weapons use.

  • Understand the key issues and treaties related to biological weapons and acquire an overview of the challenges and opportunities related to the Biological Weapons Convention.

  • Acquire knowledge about gender perspectives on WMD.


  • Biological Weapons Convention

  • Verification;

  • Science & technology;

  • cooperation in BWC;

  • gender perspectives;

  • consequences of nuclear weapons use;

  • nuclear numbers;

  • NPT and TPNW.

Module 3: Conventional Weapons

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the key issues and current developments relating to international Conventions that prohibit or restrict the use of certain types of conventional weapons.

  • Understand the key issues and current developments relating to international treaties and processes that regulate the transfer and use of conventional weapons and ammunition.


  • Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

  • Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC).

  • Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).

  • The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and other processes that regulate the transfer and use of conventional weapons and ammunition.

  • Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA).

Module 4: Space and Missiles

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the key issues and emerging challenges for multilateral governance of space, missiles, and related technologies.

  • Acquire an overview of current multilateral processes regulating space systems and missile technologies, and their use.


  • Space: the PAROS process; the Open-Ended Working Group on Space, differing approaches to space security (legally binding and politically binding mechanisms), advances in dual use space-related technologies.

  • Missiles: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Hague Code of Conduct, hypersonic weapons.

Module 5: ICT, AI and Cyber

Key learning objectives:

  • Introduce the different processes and concepts; participants will be familiarized with the main concepts surrounding these topics, milestones and significant upcoming events.


  • CCW Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), the main concepts relating to LAWS, an overview of proposals made to date on LAWS governance and information on upcoming processes at the CCW and General Assembly.

  • The status of current multilateral negotiations in the cyber domain, including a brief historical recap (OEWG, past GGEs, and a quick mention of the Ad Hoc Committee on cybercrime); the main points of contention in the current OEWG (e.g. International Law and future regular institutional dialogue); possible pathways for the remaining 2 years of negotiations under the OEWG.

  • The integration of AI in the military domain beyond lethal autonomous weapon systems, including the nascent efforts at the national and international level to move towards responsible approaches and behaviours.