[Training programme] Disarmament and non-proliferation of WMD 2022

19 - 23 September 2022
  • Starts at: 09:00h
  • Fee: € 1495 (Scholarships available)
  • Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
  • Address: R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22
    2517 JN The Hague
  •   Register

The challenges posed to international security by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons have recently reached levels of urgency not seen since the Cold War. There is an increasing demand for professionals in the field of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to tackle the challenges of today’s non-proliferation and disarmament agenda with a more integrated understanding of these issues. From 19 to 23 September, the Asser Institute in The Hague will host the thirteenth training programme on disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, co-organized with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

During this intensive training programme, you will receive a comprehensive overview of non-proliferation and disarmament efforts regarding WMD. You will learn from renowned experts and practitioners and engage in active discussions about relevant topics and ongoing debates. The programme also provides you with the opportunity to build your professional network and connect with experts in the field, as well as with your fellow participants.

Download the preliminary programme.

Register here. Please ensure to carefully read the Terms and Conditions before registering.

The registration fee includes lectures, study materials, study visits, water/tea/coffee and lunch during working days, one reception, and an opening dinner. It does not cover international travel costs, domestic travel to and from airports, accommodation, insurance, or other expenses.

All activities during the programme are conducted in English. Participants are therefore expected to have a good oral and written command of this language.

The proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) presents an incalculable risk to national, regional and global security, as well as human and environmental health. After years on the political sidelines, Weapons of Mass Destruction (biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) are again centre stage on the international security agenda. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of maintaining the prohibition norm against the use of biological and chemical weapons, and robust international mechanisms including arms control measures to prevent nuclear escalation during conflicts.

Nuclear weapons
The increased threat from nuclear weapons comes as nuclear arms control and non-proliferation regimes are disintegrating, nuclear-armed states are developing new weapons systems, and conflicts involving nuclear-armed states are erupting. Although the Cold War ended, the United States and Russia are still locked in a nuclear stand-off in which each side maintains hundreds of warheads ready to be launched at a moment’s notice.

Chemical weapons
Meanwhile, despite considerable success in curtailing chemical weapons proliferation and destroying stockpiles in the last decades, the increasing number of incidents in which chemical weapons have been used in recent years is a matter of grave concern. Questions on the possible erosion of the norm against the use of chemical weapons, how future use can be deterred, and how to strengthen the capacity of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to deal with these threats have come to the fore.

Biological weapons
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a grim reminder of the imperative of curtailing the spread and use of biological weapons. The pandemic was not the result of the intentional use of the COVID-19 virus for military purposes but it has illustrated the catastrophic health and economic impacts of the spread of a novel pathogen of a nature which could be used for military purposes, and the global cooperation and array of measures needed should a bioweapon of this kind ever be used.

Emerging technologies
Finally, the rapid development of emerging and potentially destabilizing technologies, such as drone technologies, hypersonic ballistic missiles, artificial intelligence-enabled weapon systems, present new challenges to the existing global non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control systems. In particular, such new technologies exacerbate the risks of misunderstanding, new arms races, and escalation through miscalculation. It is necessary to bring emerging technologies into the ongoing debates about arms control in order to mitigate the risks of technological innovation. 

How should we understand and deal with these new dynamics?
The annual training programme on disarmament and non-proliferation of WMD gives a comprehensive overview of the international legal and political regimes governing these weapons. It considers initiatives and progress on reducing risks associated with these weapons, reviews recent or current instances of WMD flashpoints and case studies of potential arms races, instability and escalation. Finally, it examines cutting-edge issues and developments that shape the future of our efforts to control weapons of mass destruction.

Participants will gain:

  • In-depth knowledge of the diplomatic, legal and technical aspects of disarmament and non-proliferation;
  • Insight into the work of key professionals in the area of WMD, seasoned with their personal experiences; and
  • Unique networking opportunities with speakers and participants from diverse backgrounds.

Register here.

We are not receiving scholarship applications as the deadlines for applications has passed.

OPCW Civil Society Scholarships
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) offers several competitive scholarships for civil society representatives (e.g., from non-governmental organisations, think tanks, research or academic institutions). The scholarships cover the tuition fee, international travel costs, basic medical insurance, and an allowance to cover accommodation and food expenses and are provided with funding support from the European Union.

All applications for the OPCW scholarship must be received by 4 July 2022.

Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs scholarships
The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has generously agreed to fund up to 5 scholarships. Candidates should be working in the field of (or related to) WMDs and they should be a national of and be working in at least one of the countries mentioned in the list of Low/Lower-Middle Income Economies of the World Bank.

The scholarships include tuition fee, international travel, accommodation, per diem allowance and medical insurance.

All applications for the MFA scholarship must be received by 4 July 2022.

The programme boasts a stellar line-up of experts from some of the most prominent organisations working on the front lines of disarmament and non-proliferation including:

Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez (Ambassador to UN 2014-2022)
Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez is the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations in Geneva. She was also President of the Nuclear Ban Treaty Conference, the UN Conference that negotiated a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. She will be addressing the topic of law-making and treaty negotiation for WMD disarmament and non-proliferation.

Ionut Suseanu (International Atomic Energy Agency)
Suseanu is the Head of the Non-Proliferation and Policy Making Section at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He is responsible for providing legal advice on safeguards related issues, rules of procedure of the IAEA Board of Governors and General Conference, legislative assistance, in the area of safeguards and export controls. He also provided assistance to Chairpersons during the NPT review process cycles (2007-2019) on substantive matters pertaining to pillar 2 (non-proliferation; safeguards, export controls, nuclear security, nuclear-weapon-free zones and regional issues). He will cover nuclear safeguards.

Hermann Lampanzer (UN Office for Disarmament Affairs)
Lampanzer is Deputy Chief of Implementation Support Unit/Biological Weapons Convention at the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and has twenty years of experience in international arms control. He represented the OPCW in the update of the UN Secretary-General Mechanism and was also a member of the Temporary Working Group on Verification/Scientific Advisory Board established under the auspices of the OPCW Director-General between 2013 and 2015. In 2013, he led a team of 40 international inspectors in one of the CTBTO’s largest On-Site Inspection field exercises in Hungary. He will be covering the Biological Weapons Convention.

Nomi Bar-Yaacov (International Security Program)
Nomi Bar-Yaacov is Associate Fellow at the International Security Programme. She has also worked as legal adviser to the UN Mission in Haiti, political adviser to the UN Mission in Guatemala, and on elections in Mozambique and South Africa. Between 1997 and 1998 she worked as legal adviser to various missions of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Balkans, including Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and in Montenegro. She will be leading a simulation exercise on arms control law.

Yvonne Mensah ( OPCW)
Yvonne is currently Acting Director, External Relations at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, where she also serves as Head, Political Affairs and Protocol. Yvonne was previously the Adviser and Head of Africa at the Governance and Peace Directorate of the Commonwealth Secretariat. She also served as Deputy Conference Secretary for the Biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. Prior to this role, Yvonne was Head of Office of the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, supporting the oversight and coordination function of the Secretariat’s political, legal and human rights teams. She will be covering the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Gareth Williams (OPCW)
Gareth Williams is Head of the Safety and Chemistry (SACC) and the Inspections Programme Coordinator in the Inspectorate Division of OPCW. Previously he was the Team Leader for Synthetic Chemistry at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down before a brief stint as Principal Scientist before joining OPCW where he provided advice to numerous government departments on issues related to chemical weapons. He will be speaking about the Chemical Weapon’s Convention’s mechanism of verification.

Cormac O’Reilly (OPCW)
Cormac O’Reilly is a Senior Policy Officer at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, where he is responsible for chemical security, counter-terrorism, the G7 Global Partnership, and inter-agency cooperation. He also serves as Secretary to OPCW’s Open-ended Working Group on Terrorism. A barrister-at-law called at the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, Mr O’Reilly previously served as External Relations Officer with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and for several years as a diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland focusing on disarmament and multilateral issues. He will cover the threat and response to chemical terrorism.

Remco Breuker (Leiden University)
Remco Breuker is a historian of Korea and Northeast Asia, who works on medieval Korean and Northeast Asian history and on contemporary North Korean affairs. Interested in margins, marginality, hybridity and pluralism, since 2014 he has been working on making the voices of elite exiles from North Korea heard in academic debates. He currently works on an ERC-sponsored project on perceptions of Manchurian histories and a LeidenAsiaCentre-sponsored project on North Korean forced labour in the EU. He will offer a non-proliferation case study on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and their nuclear capabilities.

Thilo Marauhn
Marauhn is a researcher in the research strand 'Regulation in the public interest: Disruptive technologies in peace and security.' Since 2016 Thilo has been Head of the Research Group on International Law at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), Member of the Leibniz Association. PRIF is one of the leading peace research institutes in Europe. Since 2017 he has been President of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. Marauhn combines his endowed professorship in Arms Control Law with his work as Professor of Public Law and International Law at the Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen and at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt in Germany.

Thea Coventry

Thea Coventry also forms part of the ‘Regulation in the public interest: disruptive technologies in peace and security’ strand of research. Thea is completing her PhD (Leiden University) investigating the role of accidental and strategic textual ambiguity in the progressive development and codification of legal rules in the field of State criminal jurisdiction. Her research interests include international arms control law, maritime security, and transnational criminal law.

Watch the programme overview and testimonials:

Key topics: Chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, biological weapons; arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament agreements; export controls and verification mechanisms; international law and diplomacy; geopolitical developments; and emerging technologies.

Target group: The training programme is designed for early- to mid-career professionals working for governments, for example, national export control bodies, national authorities for the implementation of WMD-related treaties and agreements and national nuclear agencies. Individuals working for non-governmental organisations, think tanks addressing WMD issues and research centres in related disciplines are also invited to apply. Newly arrived diplomats in The Hague are especially encouraged to sign up for the training programme.

Course aim: The WMD training programme offers participants the chance to discuss various aspects of the issue with experienced experts in an interactive and multi-disciplinary way. Participants will leave the programme with a greater understanding of disarmament and non-proliferation efforts and the international legal challenges faced by practitioners in the field.