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Non-Proliferation and Disarmament on the UN Agenda. United Nations High Representative spoke to the Dual Degree master's program's students


MOSCOW, DECEMBER 13, 2017. PIR PRESS — «I always appreciate the opportunity to speak to the students of today, or rather, the decision-makers of tomorrow. I am especially pleased to be speaking to students in my field – disarmament and non-proliferation. It is my hope that this education will prepare you to become the next generation of thinkers, practitioners and activists on these issues, devising innovative solutions to the complex problems of our work and building the bridges required to achieve them. An educational program for non-proliferation at MGIMO is correct and far-sighted decision», Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of the United Nations.

The first international Dual Degree Master’s Program “Global security, nuclear policy and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction”, realized jointly by MGIMO, PIR Center and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (USA) is continuing its course.

One of the significant events of the fall semester was the students' meeting with the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu.

There are four blocks of issues that Ms Nakamitsu highlighted.

«Why Disarmament today?»

According to the speaker, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control are core elements of both conflict prevention and conflict resolution – whether we are talking about small arms and light weapons or nuclear warheads. Disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control play a pivotal role in reducing tensions and providing the breathing space for dialogue. Take, for example, the role arms control negotiations played in easing tensions at the height of the Cold War. The Partial Test-Ban Treaty was made possible only a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the NPT followed a few years later. As an inherent part of conflict resolution, they can also help facilitate development. This link was recognised in Goal 16.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which seeks to significantly reduce illicit arms flows to enable socio-economic gains.

Broadly speaking, the disarmament and non-proliferation regime is a complex matrix of dialogue forums, transparency and confidence-building measures, and legally binding frameworks. This is reflected in a network of multilateral, plurilateral, bilateral and even unilateral treaties, instruments and arrangements.

«Disarmament that can actually safe lives»

Global military spending has ballooned to around 1.7 trillion US dollars. Inadequate controls on arms transfers have led to widespread availability and misuse of weapons. There is an equally immediate need to contain the illicit arms trade, which – inter alia – fuels civil wars, violent extremism and criminal violence. Under the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA), governments have agreed to improve national small arms laws, import and export controls, and stockpile management – and to engage in cooperation and assistance.

This too requires vigilance and capacity building to ensure all States are able to meet their commitments. In an environment of increasing military budgets, the over accumulation of heavy weapons and regional tensions, the importance of confidence building measures such as the UN Register on Conventional Arms and the UN Report on Military Spending cannot be understated.

Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

It is critical that we now re-position disarmament/non-proliferation as a key integral part of international political, peace and security agenda. At a more general level, after decades of leadership and bilateral efforts, especially by the Russian Federation and the United States, nuclear disarmament appears to have stalled.

Concurrently, modernisation campaigns are underway that are effectively a qualitative, if not quantitative, arms race. «The hard won arms control gains of the Cold War are under threat», - said the UN representative.

«Frontier issues coming to our front door»

The final issue was an era of unprecedented innovation that is transforming healthcare, education, transportation and manufacturing. However these same technologies can also be used for military purposes, be they enabling –          such as artificial intelligence or information technology – dual-use – such as synthetic biology or additive manufacturing – or strictly military – such as long- range precision conventional weapons.

The cumulative effect of these innovations has the potential to fundamentally change how wars are fought, possibly lowering the threshold for conflict and increasingly endangering civilians. In the near-term they pose significant challenges to international law, international stability and human rights.

The full text of the speech of High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of the United Nations and the transcript of the question and answer session can be found on the PIR Center website.

The admission for the next year of the program has started. For details of the program, please visit the website: