Report Sixth Annual Summer Programme on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of WMD

Published 14 September 2015

On 31 August 2015, the sixth Annual WMD Summer Programme, organised by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), kicked off at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The week-long programme involved 19 participants, 24 speakers, two field visits and social events.

Participants were welcomed by Tanya Mehra, Education Development Manager at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut, and Peter Sawczak, Head of the Government Relations and Political Affairs branch at the OPCW. The first day of the programme provided an overview of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and opened with Ahmet Üzümcü, OPCW Director General and keynote speaker, discussing the WMD Agenda for the future and the lessons learned from chemical disarmament. Niels van Willingen, Assistant Professor at Leiden University, then gave a general introduction on international law and the use of force. Oliver Meier of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs addressed WMDs from a geo-political perspective and the different models explaining the multiple causes of proliferation. Benjamin Hautecouverture of the Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique discussed the pros and cons of bilateral and multilateral disarmament and Arend Meerburg, former Dutch Ambassador, gave the last lecture of the day on the scientific and technological aspects of nuclear weapons.

The second day began with a general overview of the Non-Proliferation Treaty provided by Deepti Choubey, Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University. It was followed by Arend Meerburg’s second presentation of the week, which addressed the importance of a Fissile Materials (Cut-off) Treaty for nuclear disarmament. Then Laura Rockwood’s lecture on nuclear safeguards emphasised that the response to nuclear weapons has changed over time because the perception of the risk has changed. In addition, Jean du Preez, Chief of External Relations and International Cooperation at the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization, addressed the CTBT’s current challenges and policy issues and Deepti Choubey gave a second lecture on nuclear security and the summits. Her presentation focused on two main topics, namely the threat of nuclear terrorism and the evaluation of the Nuclear Security Summits. Finally, the second day ended with an interactive debate entitled ‘Breaking deadlocks - Prospects for new approaches to disarmament’ and addressing the question of the Humanitarian Initiative. The debate was moderated by Deepti Choubey and brought together Beyza Unal, Researcher at The Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House, and Onur Güven, researcher at the T.M.C Asser Instituut.

The topic of discussion on the third day of the programme was disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. Jonathan Forman, Science Policy Advisor of the OPCW gave a lecture on the scientific perspective of disarmament, followed by Dominique Anelli, Head of the Chemical Demilitarisation Branch of the OPCW, who discussed the mechanism of verification. Jean Pascal Zanders, an expert on chemical and biological weapons and founder of The Trench, then discussed the Chemical Weapons Convention and Daniel Feakes, Head of the BWC Implementation Support Unit of the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs in Genenva, outlined the Biological Weapons Convention. Richard Guthrie, an independent authority on chemical and biological weapons, shared a non-governmental perspective of the Biological Weapons Convention and discussed the current challenges and policy issues behind the convention. Katherine Prizeman then outlined the role of WHO in the investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic and the lessons learned from this investigation, before Tatyana Novossiolova, Wellcome Trust Doctoral Researcher at the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre at the University of Bradford focused on the need for Bio- and Chemical Security. To end the day, Richard Guthrie returned to give his views on this need for biological and chemical security.

On the fourth day of the programme, the participants spent the day on field visits to WMD treaty-related facilities. This began by a tour of the TU-Delft nuclear research reactor and then to the OPCW equipment store in Rijswijk, where a demonstration and interactive presentation of the investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria 2013 was given.

The topic of the final day of the programme was multi-stakeholder approaches to WMD diplomacy and current challenges. The day began with an explanation of export control regimes by Sibylle Bauer, Director of the Dual-use and Arms Trade Control Programme at the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute. Jonathan Forman returned this time to discuss scientific and technological development and their relation to chemical and biological disarmament. Over lunch, Steven Danilewicz, Head of the Recruitment Office at the OPCW, and Grant Dawson, Deputy Legal Advisor of the OPCW, joined the participants to provide advice on professional opportunities in the sphere of WMDs. After lunch, Paul Walker, International Program Director of the Environmental Security and Sustainability Program of Green Cross International gave a lecture on the legacy of WMDs and the environment. Following this, and to end the programme, a discussion panel was formed by Paul Walker, who was joined by Tim Edwards, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the OPCW, and Ferdinand van der Graaf, Professor at the University of Groningen. The panel discussed broadening the community of stakeholders in WMD disarmament and non-proliferation and was moderated by Peter Sawczak, Head of the Government Relations and Political Affairs Branch of the OPCW.