Today nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and global security education is one of the tools for strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation and arms control regime. It also plays an important role in building a sustainable society.
Many projects are currently being realized to advance this agenda. The number of disarmament and nonproliferation education programs is growing. Opportunities for students to communicate with leading experts around the world are increasing. Young researchers are taking more initiative to offer the world new creative but critical approaches to solving global problems. Moreover, the UN General Assembly establishes international days and weeks, such as the International Day of Education (January 24) or the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness (March 5), to educate the general public.
The 20th anniversary of the UN Secretary-General Report United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education was marked in 2022. Previously, in one of the PIR Posts, we already spoke about the programs and initiatives aimed at implementing this UN agenda. In the context of the aggravation of the international situation, especially in conditions of numerous speculations on the nuclear factor in international relations, education and awareness-raising in this area are of particular relevance.
The 20th anniversary of the United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education: What was achieved in 2022?
The United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education was prepared by the Group of Governmental Experts by order of the UN General Assembly in 2002. It included 34 recommendations to assist current efforts. The recommendations were aimed at preparing educational materials on nonproliferation issues and translating them into all official UN languages, providing specialized training and fellowship programs for representatives from different regions of the world, using digital and game technology and creative teaching methods to enhance the quality of education and promote disarmament and nonproliferation awareness. They were also addressed to the UN system and other international organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and nongovernmental organizations.
PIR Center, as a specialized Russian NGO, has been carrying out nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and global security education and training since 1994. Being the pioneer of nonproliferation education in Russia, PIR Center collaborates with Russian universities, where it conducts training courses and seminars. As a result, with our assistance and support in the 1990-2000s research schools on nonproliferation and disarmament issues have been established in some cities of Russia, including St. Petersburg State University (SPbU) in St. Petersburg, Ural Federal University (UrFU) in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk State Technical University (NSTU) in Novosibirsk and National Research Tomsk State University (TSU) in Tomsk.
Over the 29 years of active work, we have been able to form a broad international community of specialists in the field of International Relations — PIR Alumni Community. Its most impressive element is more than 800 graduates of the key PIR Center Education & Training Program`s projects: the International School on Global Security, training and lecture courses, the Internship Program, the International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy, and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center), the International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates, etc.
Today, despite the complexity of the international situation, PIR Center continues to pay special attention to the creation of a new generation of professionals in nuclear nonproliferation issues. In 2022, we successfully implemented existing and developed new projects and initiatives in nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and global security education and awareness.
In 2022, we expanded our cooperation with MGIMO University and signed an agreement on the implementation of a joint educational project Global Security, Strategic Stability and Arms Control as part of the federal academic leadership program Priority 2030. This initiative is aimed at the formation of a Russian scientific research school on nuclear aspects of global security, as well as at enhancing the academic reputation of PIR Center and MGIMO University in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and strategic stability.
On June 18-26, 2022, PIR Center held XXI International School on Global Security, which was organized in partnership with MGIMO University as a part of the implementation of the joint project Global Security, Strategic Stability and Arms Control, as well as with grant support from the Presidential Grants Fund, the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund and the Russkiy Mir Foundation. 27 participants — representatives of diplomatic and military departments, think tanks and universities from Azerbaijan, Belarus, DPR, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, North Macedonia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Japan — attended the event. They studied key issues of global security and discussed the prospects for interaction in the new geopolitical reality.
On June 22, 2022, the IV International Timerbayev Nuclear Debate on the topic Will the World be Safer without Nuclear Weapons? was held within the framework of the XXI International School on Global Security. The event was held in the format of situational analysis. The Debates demonstrated the high level of preparation of all participants. As a result, the point of view that a world without nuclear weapons would not be a safer place prevailed.
In 2022, PIR Center continued to implement the educational project Oral History of Nuclear Nonproliferation, which is aimed at preserving and transmitting the historical memory of the role of Russian diplomats and military officers in building the modern arms control, disarmament, and nuclear nonproliferation architecture. Following the results, from December 3 to 5, 2022, a final seminar was held in Vladimir. It brought together 17 young researchers from Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Japan and Switzerland. Within the framework of the seminar, two round tables were held: Arms control at the present stage: challenges and prospects and Current problems of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. After the experts` presentations, the participants were able to ask their questions and discuss the current problems of arms control, nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament with leading practitioners in this field.
On December 4, 2022, PIR Center held the V International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates as part of the seminar on the results of the project Oral History of Nuclear Nonproliferation. This time the topic of the Debates was: Will new technologies become a factor of strategic instability and a new arms race, or will they have a positive impact on the future of nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and arms control? The participants were divided into working groups. The task of affirmative teams was to find arguments in favor of the following position: “Yes, new technologies will become a factor of strategic instability and a new arms race”, and the negative teams — “No, new technologies will have a positive impact on the future of arms control”. This time none of the teams won, and most of the participants concluded that new technologies would have negative consequences for the future of nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and arms control.
PIR Center systematically conducts the Midweek Brainstorming Sessions. In 2022, seasoned experts and novice international researchers from Russia and other countries discussed such topics as Wars of the future, International Humanitarian Law and International Regulation of the LAWs and Strategic instability: the problem of reducing nuclear risks in the framework the XIV Russian International Studies Association (RISA) Convention. The defense of the research works of the trainee Daniil Rastegaev (The Legal Regime of Anti-Satellite Weapons: On the Question of Russia’s Optimal Position), the intern Sofya Shestakova (The Possible Role of the P5 in Strengthening Strategic Stability) and the Junior Research Fellow of PIR Center Alexandra Zubenko (Role of Nuclear Weapons in the Modern Strategic Culture of France and Interests of Russia) also took place within the Midweek Brainstorming Sessions. As part of another Midweek Brainstorming Sessions, Ms. Larisa Savelyeva delivered the report on the topic Taiwan’s Nuclear Potential and Regional Security Issues. This Midweek Brainstorming Session was held against the backdrop of the coming publication of a new PIR Center report New Nuclear Nine? Assessing the risks of nuclear proliferation in the world.
In an effort to support talented young people, PIR Center organizes international expert seminars in which students and novice researchers participate along with leading Russian and foreign experts. In 2022, PIR Center and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) held an online seminar Danger of nuclear war and strategic (in)stability: is de-escalation feasible? in a Track II format and an expert seminar Strategic (in)stability in Europe and Asia: Pathways Towards Risk Reduction and De-escalation.
On October 19-20, 2022, PIR Center, together with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey (CNS/MIIS), held an international conference on Sixty years of the Cuban Missile Crisis: lessons for the 21st century, in which participants analyzed the lessons learned from the Cuban Missile Crisis and discussed their applicability to the current period of international tension.
Since 2018, PIR Center has been implementing the project Young Specialists in the NPT Review Process in the track 2.5 format: diplomats — experts — young specialists. Previously, graduates and students of the International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy, and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center), as well as students from other Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) programs, participated in the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference in Geneva (2018), in the second Russian-American seminar on the NPT review process issues on the margins of the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference in New York (2019), and in the third Russian-American seminar on the NPT review process issues (2020).
On August 15, 2022, despite international tensions, the IV meeting of the Track 2.5 working group on the topic Russian-US Dialogue on the NPT Review Process and the Role of Youth was held in New York. The event was attended by experienced and novice experts on nuclear nonproliferation, strategic stability and arms control. The seminar was co-organized by PIR Center and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, USA (CNS).
PIR Center is actively working on preparing educational materials. One of the main educational novelties of 2022 is the PIR Center monograph Russian–American Nuclear Nonproliferation Dialogue: Lessons Learned and Road Ahead, edited by Founding Director of PIR Center Dr. Vladimir Orlov and PIR Center Research Fellow Mr. Sergey Semenov. In September, 2022, the authoritative publishing house Palgrave Macmillan (part of the Springer publishing group) released the 2nd edition of the monograph.
On November 30, 2022, PIR Center and the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) held a joint expert seminar Reflecting on the X NPT Review Conference: What Is the Future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime?, which included the presentation of the PIR Center report New Nuclear Nine? Assessing Nuclear Proliferation Threats in the World (in Russian). The PIR Center author’s team of 12 researchers analyzed the most radical scenarios for the development of the situation in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, which may lead to the emergence of new nuclear states on the political map of the world.
The PIR Center’s activities are not limited to educational and awareness-raising projects. Since 2016, in partnership with MGIMO University and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), we have been implementing a professional training program for young specialists in the field of nuclear nonproliferation — the International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy, and WMD Nonproliferation. More than 30 students from Russia, Canada, China, Ireland, Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea have already graduated from the Program.
On June 29, 2022, the final exam and the defense of master’s theses were held for the students of the 5th cohort (2020-2022) of the Dual Degree M.A. Program in Nonproliferation Studies. They presented the results of their research on political and legal problems and prospects for preventing arms race in outer space (Sarah Erickson) and the phenomenon of low yield nuclear weapons as a threat to global strategic stability (Chase LeMay). Both students successfully passed exams and defended their master’s theses, demonstrating a high level of preparation at the end of the two years of studying on the Program
On November 5, 2022, with assistance from PIR Center, the 6th cohort students (2021-2023) who are currently studying in the US and students from other master’s programs at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) met with H.E. Anatoly Antonov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the USA. We are also pleased to note that student of the Dual Degree M.A. Program in Nonproliferation Studies Océane Van Geluwe (France) has been awarded the IAEA Maria Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Program (MSCFP). MSCFP is an initiative under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which aims to increase the number of women in the nuclear field by providing an inclusive educational environment.
Today, PIR Center actively uses new information and communication technologies as an additional tool to promote disarmament and nonproliferation education. 2022 was marked by intensified work on the launch of a new website Nonproliferation.World, which is a modern, technologically attractive and easy to use online platform for training in WMD nonproliferation and global security. NP.World is expected to become a unified scientific, educational and communication portal for the current and future generation of international security experts.
We would like to emphasize that PIR Center not only promotes high-quality knowledge about nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, but also provides many opportunities for students to interact with leading Russian and foreign experts. Conducting trainings, seminars and conferences, implementing the internship program and developing cooperation with Moscow and regional universities, PIR Center ensures the inclusive involvement of creative and talented young people in research and project activities in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and global security. As a result of participation in PIR Center projects, students and young professionals realize their research potential, gain practical skills and experience, create and develop their own disarmament and nonproliferation educational initiatives.
It should be noted that the projects listed in this PIR-Post are only a small part of what we implemented last year. The active work of the PIR Center Education and Training Program is an excellent example of a comprehensive approach to implementing the recommendations made in the UN Secretary-General Report United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education. Read about the largest and most significant events in the life of PIR Center in 2022 in our Information Bulletin PIRogue (in Russian).
On the way to the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness
On December 7, 2022, the UN General Assembly, “convinced that the need has never been greater for disarmament and non-proliferation education… emphasizing in this context the essential role of Governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academia and the media, as well as acknowledging the related importance of education as a tool for peace, security, disarmament and non-proliferation,” adopted resolution 77/51, proclaiming 5 March as the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness.
Kyrgyzstan previously took this initiative. It was presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic Ruslan Kazakbaev in September 2021, when the 76th session of the UN General Assembly and the XII Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT were held. Thus, he called on international society to deepen cooperation in the field of disarmament and nonproliferation education.
On 4 October, the delegation of Kyrgyzstan, on behalf of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, the United States of America, Uzbekistan and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), submitted a draft resolution A/C.1/77/L.14 entitled International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness. Subsequently, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Belarus, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Japan, Kiribati, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Oman, Peru, Singapore, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, Viet Nam and Zambia joined in sponsoring the draft resolution.
The Kyrgyzstan Initiative was developed in accordance with the recommendations set out in the United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education (August 30, 2002). It also logically continued the existing resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly in the field of disarmament and nonproliferation education. In particular, it is worth mentioning the UN General Assembly resolution 55/33E (2000), as it was the first to incorporate this issue into the UN agenda.
“Despite the fact that the topic of disarmament and nonproliferation education has been discussed in the official discourse since the adoption of the resolution 55/33E in 2000, the UN Kyrgyzstan initiative is an important practice of implementation of the new disarmament norms. The submission by Kyrgyzstan the agenda, in keeping with the spirit of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, demonstrates its relevance. The establishment of the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness is yet another attempt to remind us of the importance of human rights, the humanitarian dimension and disarmament. Moreover, we see that Kyrgyzstan is positioning itself as a promoter of nuclear disarmament issues. For the Russian Federation, whose educational projects are mainly dominated by arms control issues, this initiative may become a kind of signal of the need to promote new approaches, as well as to explore another range of problems,” —shares her opinion Dr. Ekaterina Mikhaylenko, Associate Professor at the Department of Theory and History of International Relations of Ural Federal University, Head of the Ural Nonproliferation Group.
In the spirit of the new Agenda for Disarmament
In 2018, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres launched Securing our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament, outlining a vision of disarmament actions necessary to ensure sustainable peace and security for all.
The Agenda for Disarmament defines four key pillars that today require immediate practical implementation:
“The initiative to proclaim 5th of March as the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness is an important step in the implementation of the objectives outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the new Agenda for Disarmament Securing our Common Future presented by the UN Secretary-General in 2018. Russia has accumulated a solid experience in teaching disarmament and nonproliferation issues. Unique teaching teams have been formed in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg. For example, at St. Petersburg State University, the curriculum is not limited to nuclear issues, but is aimed at a comprehensive study of WMD nonproliferation and conventional arms limitation problems. The convergence of sciences and digitalization increases the risks of switching various technologies from peaceful to military purposes. It is important to develop an interdisciplinary approach to disarmament and nonproliferation education, as well as to expand partnerships between Russian universities. The implementation of the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 7, 2022, could contribute to the establishment of an appropriate international platform for interaction between all interested parties, which could, among other things, promote international cooperation in terms of the exchange of experiences, professional development of teachers, and improvement of teaching methods,” — notes Dr. Anastasia Malygina, Associate Professor at the Department of Theory and History of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University, Director of the Cross-disciplinary Centre for Global Biosecurity Studies.
Predictions for the future
“The issues of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament have always been highly speculative. But now they have become even more speculative and unnecessary emotive. Disarmament and nonproliferation education and training can also set new dividing lines. That’s why it requires careful approach. We hope that the Kyrgyz Republic’s initiative will make it possible to avoid these dividing lines and give new impetus to discussions on how to develop disarmament and nonproliferation education in general, including at the international level. The observed aggravation of the international situation, the 20th anniversary of the UN Secretary-General Report United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education, and UN General Assembly resolution 77/51 itself — all these provide new chances for expert dialogues on how to use disarmament and nonproliferation education resources for peace and security,” — Ms. Elena Karnaukhova, Deputy Director – Education and Training Program Director of PIR Center, comments the UN Kyrgyzstan initiative.
The annual celebration of the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness on 5th of March and conduction of information and awareness-raising activities are expected to help to draw public attention to global security issues and raise public awareness. However, for education projects and initiatives in this field to truly strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime and set the international community on a path toward a more stable and secure world, knowledge on nuclear issues must remain objective and the approaches promoted toward disarmament, nonproliferation and nuclear energy development must remain balanced. Building a dialogue on the most pressing issues of arms control, disarmament, WMD nonproliferation, and global security as a whole requires international scientific cooperation that does not exclude either side. Disarmament and nonproliferation education must not be hijacked by a certain ideology and turned into another tool for achieving geopolitical goals.