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Disarmament Orientation Course 2020

This online orientation course for Geneva disarmament diplomats was designed and presented jointly by UNIDIR and UNODA, and was held from 18-27 August 2020. The course consisted of six thematic modules, with each module comprising a reading list, an introductory video and a 90-minute interactive online videoconference session. The reading list and introductory videos are 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

Preparatory video

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 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.  
  • Moderator: Tim Caughley, UNIDIR.

 

Module 2: Weapons of mass destruction

Preparatory video

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.    
  2. Understand the key issues and treaties related to biological and chemical weapons.

Topics

  • Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation: The NPT, an overview, preparing for the postponed 2020 Review Conference, and challenges and opportunities for the 2021-2025 review cycle, including coverage of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East.
  • Biological and chemical weapons: Biological weapons: the work of the Geneva-based BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU), insights into issues arising from intersessional period 2018 to the present, and current issues approaching the 2021 Review Conference. Chemical Weapons: brief insights into the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, The Hague.    
  • Panelists will include academic experts, senior government representatives, a representative of the BWC ISU, and a representative of civil society.    
  • Moderator: Radha Day, UNODA.

 

Module 3: Conventional weapons

Preparatory video (Part 1)

Preparatory video (Part 2)

Key learning objectives:   

  1. Acquire an overview of the various treaties and processes dealing with conventional weapons, and the 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 and its Protocols: looking towards the upcoming 9-13 November 2020 Annual Conferences: CCW APII on mines, booby-traps and other devices, Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War and Meeting of the High Contracting Parties.   
  • Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC): Looking towards the 18th Meeting of States Parties, 16-20 November 2020.   
  • Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM): looking towards the Second Review Conference, 23-27 November 2020.  
  • Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA): discussions on a political declaration.   
  • Preventing diversion and illicit proliferation: The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA); Group of Governmental Experts on conventional ammunition stockpiles.   
  • Panelists will include representatives of UNODA, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the APMBC and CCM ISUs, and the ATT Secretariat. 
  • Moderator: Peter Kolarov, UNODA.

 

Module 4: Space and missiles

Preparatory video

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; convergence across technologies.    
  • Missiles: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), hypersonic weapons   
  • Panelists to include representatives of the ATT Secretariat, UNODA and civil society, UNIDIR space and missile experts, academics.  
  • Moderator: Richard Lennane, UNIDIR.

 

Module 5: ICT, artificial intelligence and cyber

Preparatory video

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): lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), including the CCW Group of Governmental Experts on LAWS; other 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.    
  • Panelists will include UNIDIR and academic experts, representatives of the ICRC, ICT industry and civil society.    
  • Moderator: Giacomo Persi Paoli, UNIDIR.

 

Module 6: Cross-cutting issues

Preparatory video

Key learning objectives: 

  1. Explore how structural issues and influences affect all areas of disarmament diplomacy.
  2. Consider the roles, perspectives and potential contributions of different actors working on multilateral disarmament.

Topics

  • Gender issues: gender parity in disarmament processes; gender Disarmament Impact Group; gender analysis of 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. 
  • Role of civil society: different types of civil society actors and stakeholders; motivations and trade-offs for NGOs in disarmament; building coalitions and working effectively with civil society partners.  
  • Panelists will include UNIDIR experts, government and civil society representatives.   
  • Moderator: Richard Lennane, UNIDIR.