The VCDNP and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) held their twelfth intensive short course on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament on 3-7 October 2016. The continued high level of interest in the courses brought together a diverse group of 27 diplomats and representatives from Permanent Missions and ministries from 27 states from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. Women made up 48 percent of the course participants, and 47 percent of the lecturers.
The course immediately followed the 60th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and preceded the forthcoming International Conference on Nuclear Security to be hosted by the IAEA in December. The timing of the course offered an excellent opportunity for participants to discuss events that had transpired during the General Conference the week before, to learn more about the non-proliferation regime and the IAEA, to expand their knowledge on other international organizations based in Vienna, such as the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and to examine important case studies in the field, such as Iraq, Iran, South Africa and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.
Course participants were also given the opportunity to hear from Ambassador Laura Holgate, Permanent Representative to the United States of America to the International Organizations in Vienna, her personal views of lessons learned from the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process and the way forward for nuclear security. The conclusion of the NSS process in April 2016 had brought with it a number of questions, including: what are the priorities and tasks going forward; how to maintain the momentum that was generated during the Summit process; and what role should the IAEA play in nuclear security? Ambassador Holgate sought to address these questions during her presentation, which was open to the public.
Participants were also invited to visit the CTBTO International Data Centre and Radionuclide Station and the IAEA’s Safeguards Laboratory and Incident and Emergency Centre. During the visits, participants gained a deeper first-hand appreciation of the work of the organizations and their contributions to the non-proliferation community.
View the Course Agenda
The course programme allowed participants to interact with experts, ask questions in a candid manner and have an open debate. The lecturers included experts from CNS and the VCDNP, as well as senior officials from international organizations and academic institutions. The list of speakers included: Tim Andrews (IAEA); Jacques Baute (IAEA); Andrea Berger (RUSI); Renauld Chatelus (University of Liège); Jasmin Craufurd-Hill (WiN Global/IFRS); Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova (VCDNP); Jenny Nielsen (VCDNP); William Potter (CNS); Tariq Rauf (SIPRI); Therese Renis (IAEA); Laura Rockwood (VCDNP); Nikolai Sokov (CNS); Grant Spence (IAEA); Nicholas Thompson (AWE), and Elisabeth Waechter (CTBTO).
For the second time, the VCDNP also hosted a social event that brought together current course participants with VCDNP course alumni. The event provided a great opportunity for participants to widen their networks, both in Vienna and abroad, to exchange professional experiences and to share knowledge in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. This year, prior to the social gathering, course participants participated in an informal roundtable discussion with three Vienna-based course alumni, who spoke of their own experiences, lessons learned and impressions of working in Vienna.
At the end of the course, participants completed an anonymous assessment of the course and its contribution to their professional development. The survey results confirm the importance of the VCDNP short course and its ability to deliver knowledge about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to practitioners in an engaging and thought-provoking way. Highlighted below are some of the comments provided by participants (quoted as written):
“The course is very helpful to my understanding of disarmament regimes and practices in the world.”
“It [the course] is a must for diplomats whom are posted in Vienna to work on IAEA issues and all matters related to disarmament and non-proliferation.”
“The course is extremely helpful to my profressional development as well as to fulfill my responsiblities.”
“The expertise of the different lectures/course facilitators is apparent. The teaching method/style is also commendable because it is open and sincere.”
“The information was relevant and topical. In addition the opportunity to network with colleagues from Geneva and ministries/capitals and also with colleagues from Vienna in a relaxed atmosphere was very useful.”
The VCDNP extends its gratitude to the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway for their generous support that made this course possible.