International Disarmament Institute News

Education and Research on Global Disarmament Policy

March 2, 2020
by mbolton
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Youth are the future of nuclear disarmament

Crystal Isidor, Pace University senior and Model United Nations head delegate, speaking at UN headquarters on youth and nuclear disarmament. Photo by Veronika Datzer and Yury Medvedev, UN.

On 20 January 2020, Crystal Isidor ’20, a Pace University senior and Model United Nations Head Delegate, spoke on a panel about nuclear disarmament at UN headquarters, alongside such distinguished speakers as Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and H.E. Ambassador Cho Hyun, Permanent Representation of Republic of Korea to the UN. Crystal “discussed means for youth to become involved in disarmament—including through social media, volunteer opportunities and internships.” In the following blog post, she reflects on her experience. 

I was very honored the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) invited me to be a part of their panel, especially with such a distinguished group of professionals. The topic of nuclear disarmament can be intimidating. But it  is an issue that becomes more pressing everyday. On the panel, I spoke about my background and how youth like myself can get involved in disarmament without having prior experience in the field or having finished their studies. There are a number of organizations doing remarkable work on this issue that offer many internships and volunteer opportunities to get involved, as well as events like the Youth4Disarmament Initiative to learn more about the topic.

Joining the Model UN team at Pace was one of the best ways to get first hand experience to how diplomatic work is done. It is a great way for the younger generation to actively gain more experience in this field. Youth are the future. It is imperative for youth to be engaged in a substantive conversation on disarmament. The past generation of diplomats need to collaborate with the next generation of leaders and thinkers to continue and make leaps in disarmament at large.

— Crystal Isidor ’20

February 18, 2019
by mbolton
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Reflections on Who Is Left Out of Disarmament Diplomacy

Pace University student Angelica Roman ’19 at UN headquarters in New York City.

The following reflection is from Angelica Roman ’19, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.

I walked through the doors of the United Nations on September 27, 2018, clenching my grounds pass, anxiously walking through the halls, feeling the nerves creep through every vein of my body. “I don’t deserve to be here,” my thoughts piercingly echoed in my head.

“Why was an inexperienced philosophy undergraduate student attending First Committee?”, I asked myself. In a room full of expert Delegates and activists I felt like the pariah. I was the young adult who knew very little about nuclear weapons, missiles, drones, or really any topic at First Committee.

Yet I was guaranteed a seat for two weeks. I was allowed to hear, take notes, and ask questions to the leaders of the world. I realized that this opportunity I had was one of a kind. And while other college students read and studied the reports of First Committee that week, I was able to physically be present in the room with all of the delegates.

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December 20, 2018
by mbolton
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Hiroshima Survivors Inspired Me to Work for Peace and Gender Equality

Pace University students (left to right) Seneca Forch, Laken Fournier and Mary-Lynn Hearn meet with Hiroshima survivors and Akira Kawasaki of Peace Boat at Rutgers University, 29 October 2018.

The following reflection is from Mary-Lynn Hearn ’19, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.

This semester I did my service learning project with Peace Boat US, an NGO working for peace, human rights, and sustainability, at their office opposite the United Nations in New York.

One of the most rewarding experiences of the semester was helping with a Peace Boat event at Rutgers University, in which I heard the testimonies of Tsukamoto Michiko and Sora Tamiko, two hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Despite what they had endured, they communicated no animosity for what happened over 70 years ago, only a call to action for nuclear disarmament. The resilience of Tsukamoto Michiko and Sora Tamiko was inspiring and a true testament for how there is a possibility to rebuild.

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December 20, 2018
by mbolton
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A World Free from the Threat of Weapons Is a Completely Achievable Goal

Pace University Katherrine Ketterer ’20 did her service learning assignment with Control Arms during the 2018 UN General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

The following reflection is from Katherine Ketterer ’20, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.

Even though I am a head delegate of Pace’s New York City Model UN program, I have always felt the United Nations was an elusive thing. I learned about the people who work there, how they are supposed to speak and act, along with their policy. But I never really understood what exactly went on during the meetings.

Now I have a much better idea. During the UN General Assembly First Committee this October and November, I worked with Control Arms, an NGO coalition that works to curb the negative impact of the conventional arms trade. Taking notes, I had the opportunity to hear the concerns and opinions from almost every country in the world, and compile them together for analysis. Pretty cool!

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December 19, 2018
by mbolton
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Pace Students Engage in Service Learning with Disarmament Advocacy Organizations at UN

Pace University students (left to right) Seneca Forch ’19, Laken Fournier ’21 and Mary-Lynn Hearn ’19 meet with Hiroshima atomic bombing survivors, Tsukamoto Michiko and Sora Tamiko, and Akira Kawasaki of Peace Boat, at Rutgers University, 29 October 2018. They are holding the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which Peace Boat is an international steering group member.

Pace University students provided almost 470 hours of volunteer service to 12 civil society organizations engaging in humanitarian and human rights advocacy in and around UN policy discussions on global peace and security in Fall 2019 semester.

“Every week I got to gain first hand experience of international relations,” said Crystal Isidor ’21. “I learned about how diplomatic relationships work and how important they are in order to find solutions to complicated problems around the world.”

Enrolled in POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control, 22 undergraduate students were given 20-hour service learning placements with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working at the UN, to fulfill the civic engagement requirement of Pace’s core curriculum. The class also counted for the Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies majors.

The focus of the students’ assignments was the UN General Assembly First Committee, in which the almost 200 member governments debated matters of disarmament and international security, October to November 2019, drafting resolutions for consideration by the General Assembly’s plenary.

Students monitored the debates, taking notes on statements, helping to organize logistics for lunchtime panel discussions, taking photographs, writing news articles and grant proposals, conducting research and assisting with social media messaging.

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April 25, 2018
by mbolton
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“The Most Meaningful and by Far the Best Experience I Have Had at This University”: A Student Reflection on Disarmament Education

Alex Brizer ’19, speaking about his experiences of disarmament education at the 2018 Mortola Society luncheon at Pace University.

The following reflection is a speech that Alex Brizer ’19 delivered to the Mortola Society luncheon, celebrating donors to Pace University on 19 April 2018, reflecting on his experiences in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2016.

Good morning everyone! Thank you for inviting me to speak today at the Mortola Society luncheon. My name is Alex Brizer. I’m a student here at Pace University, at the New York City campus, majoring in Communications and minoring in both History and Criminal Justice.

In the fall of 2016 I signed up for what seemed like an interesting class called “Global Politics of Disarmament,” not knowing a thing about the topic or professor, Dr. Matthew Bolton.  What transpired over the next few months was undoubtedly the most meaningful and by far best experience I have had at this University.

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October 8, 2017
by mbolton
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The Role of the Pace Community in the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Campaign to Ban the Bomb

Pace University students along with their professors Matthew Bolton, PhD, and Emily Welty, PhD, have been working intensely for three years on negotiations of a nuclear weapons ban treaty with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) that on 6 October was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017.

ICAN has led the way in recent years in campaigning for an international treaty to make nuclear weapons illegal. The Nobel Prize adds momentum to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted at the United Nations by more than 120 countries on July 7 of this year, and should help the process of ratification, with 50 more countries needed. The treaty makes nuclear arms illegal and calls for assistance to victims and remediation of environmental damage.

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October 8, 2017
by mbolton
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Humanitarian and Environmental Action to Address Nuclear Harm

The development, production, testing and use of nuclear weapons has had catastrophic humanitarian and ecological consequences on people and environments around the world. ‘Nuclear harm’ – the damage caused by blast, incendiary and radioactive effects of nuclear weapons use, testing and production, as well as by other nuclear technologies – poses threats to the pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

A new report from Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute explores possibilities for new global humanitarian and environmental action to address nuclear harm.

Due to advocacy by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recognized by the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) established ‘positive obligations’ on affected states to assist victims of nuclear weapons use and testing and to remediate contaminated environments. To ensure that the burden does not fall unduly on affected states, the TPNW requires all states to engage in international cooperation and assistance to achieve these and the treaty’s other goals. While the TPNW does not explicitly cover all forms of nuclear harm, and the universalization of the treaty may take some time, its implementation offers the opportunity to build a normative framework and institutional architecture for humanitarian and environmental action to address nuclear harm.

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September 6, 2017
by mbolton
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Briefing Paper on Disarmament Education for UN General Assembly First Committee 2017

The International Disarmament Institute has provided an article on the disarmament education policy agenda for this year’s First Committee Briefing Book, which provides guidance to delegates and advocates attended the UN General Assembly’s meetings this coming fall 2017 on disarmament and international security.

The successful negotiation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has provided new political and legal impetus for disarmament education. The preamble specifically recognises “the importance of peace and disarmament education in all its aspects and of raising awareness of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons for current and future generations, and committed to the dissemination of the principles and norms” of the TPNW. It also stress the role of UN, “International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, other international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious leaders, parliamentarians, academics and the hibakusha” as representatives of the “public conscience” in pressing for nuclear disarmament. This framing represents a welcome turn toward a more vigorous approach to disarmament and nonproliferation education.

To read our article, click here.

June 16, 2017
by mbolton
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Op-Ed: Revitalizing Internationalism through the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Director of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute Matthew Bolton wrote an op-ed for Just Security on the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty negotiations:

A resurgence of small-minded nationalism around the globe, most worryingly in several nuclear-armed countries, has gravely concerned many who champion the international organizations that promote global peace and security, human rights and humanitarianism and sustainable development. Here in the U.S., foreign policy experts across the political spectrum have despaired at Donald Trump’s disregard for multilateral security institutions, withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and outright disrespect for global diplomatic norms.

For activists on the streets and officials in the negotiation rooms, the nuclear weapons ban treaty offers a way to reclaim political agency, showing that – even in difficult times – it is possible to address global security challenges through advocacy, diplomacy and multilateralism. By writing a treaty they are choosing to develop new norms, rather than being defined in reaction to the ugly nationalism of our time. They are demonstrating that internationalism is alive and well and can achieve progressive change.

To read the full article, click here.

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