International Disarmament Institute News

Education and Research on Global Disarmament Policy

May 26, 2022
by mbolton

Learning about Race and Intersectionality in Humanitarian Disarmament

The following reflection is from Rina Mjeku, a recent Pace University graduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2021. Students were given service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN and New York City. Rina’s assignment was with the network of organizations that planned the 2021 Humanitarian Disarmament Forum on Race and Intersectionality.


As I was considering which community partner to work with for my civic engagement hours, I was drawn to the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum (HDF). I had great interest in the 2020-2021 Forum topic, on Race and Intersectionality and wanted to help with the planning process in any way I could.

Working with the HDF was an eye-opening experience. It allowed me to see the behind-the-scenes of planning a forum attended by hundreds of disarmament activists from around the world. I learned how the disarmament community can become intersectional and anti-racist in their work and organizations.

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February 28, 2022
by mbolton

A Short Guide to Avoiding Doomscrolling (on This and Other Crises)

by Emily Welty, Director and Associate Professor of Peace and Justice Studies, Pace University New York City

  • Your attention is a form of currency. When you choose to read or take in information from one source and not another, you are boosting this information source with your views. This means it is more important than ever to think about who is delivering narratives that are careful, nuanced and complex.
  • Take a long view. If you already find yourself spending periods of time taking in lots of tiny pieces of information, consider how using that time to understand the historical roots of this conflict is actually much more productive. I will provide a list of resources at the bottom but consider how even though it feels like you are informed to keep checking Twitter, your news feed and TikTok, this is not actually providing you with deeper understanding.
  • Beware of false flags and misinformation. Unless you are both linguistically and culturally fluent in the conflict, you are very unlikely to be able to distinguish good information from bad. Everyone believes that they are not susceptible to misinformation. Assume that you are and turn to information that has been carefully sourced. It is very appealing to watch the short reports of citizens who are livestreaming from their homes – and sometimes this might be a responsible way to know what is happening. But think carefully about what your intentions are when you take this in – is this helping you to engage? Is it deepening trauma? Keep thinking about how we balance the responsibility to witness with the need to not traumatize our own nervous systems.
  • Amplify people who are calling for peace – especially if they are in some of the most difficult contexts in which to do so. Follow carefully the nonviolent protests that are occurring and how they are being policed. Keep asking how protestors are being treated and if you need to publicly weigh in on the conflict, highlight their bravery and determination.
  • Avoid simplistic narratives. Think about how to analyze a conflict beyond who is right and who is wrong. What do these actors want? What are their interests? What are the connectors between these societies? How are resources involved? Be skeptical of sources that link a conflict to any one singular cause. If a report claims that a conflict is “all about oil/NATO/something else” be skeptical about the complexity of this reporting. Avoid narratives that present conflict with clearly defined good people and bad people.
  • Language matters! Using ableist language like “crazy”, “madman”, “lunatic”, “insane”, etc. is not helpful and usually does not accurately describe the way that humans are making decisions. Comparing people to animals or using language like “savage” is rooted in historical dehumanizing language that is both colonial and racist.
  • Take a break. What is happening right now will have an effect on your body and your mind if you take too much of it in at once. While it feels like we are doing something good by watching endless news, this has actual somatic impacts on our body and our nervous system which cannot always distinguish between what is happening to us and what we are watching. Go outside. Turn off your phone and chat with a friend. Look at the sky. We need people to stay engaged and care long-term which means that we also have to take breaks.


In the case of Ukraine specifically:

  • Take the time to understand what sanctions mean. What kinds of sanctions are applied in conflict and how do they work?
  • Think about refugee support. There are already refugees moving in this conflict – where are they going? What are their needs? Who is supporting them?
  • Language matters! If you are signaling support for Ukrainians, use “Ukraine” not “the Ukraine” and “Kyiv” not “Kiev”. These preferred terms indicate the way Ukrainians define themselves rather than the way they have been defined by others.
  • Think about how this conflict has been heightened and made much more dangerous and scary by the presence of nuclear weapons. Work on efforts to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and particularly the Cities Appeal to get every city in the world to commit to being nuclear-free. Look at how your own banks/institutions invest in nuclear weapons and demand divestment.


January 30, 2021
by mbolton

Addressing the Threat of Autonomous Weapons: Maintaining Meaningful Human Control

A new paper co-authored by Dr. Matthew Bolton of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute, argues for a legally-binding instrument on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). There is a need both for a legally-binding prohibition of certain autonomous weapons and for strong positive obligations to ensure meaningful human control of the use of force rooted in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. The Alliance for Multilateralism has endorsed voluntary Guiding Principles on LAWS. Its Member States should now lead the Principles’ upgrade towards more robust international agreements. One venue for this could be an additional protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

The paper, published by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, is available for download here.

September 11, 2018
by mbolton

Briefing Paper on Disarmament Education for UN General Assembly First Committee 2018

The International Disarmament Institute has provided an article on the disarmament education policy agenda for this year’s First Committee Briefing Book (2018), which provides guidance to delegates and advocates attended the UN General Assembly’s meetings this coming fall 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 multiple stakeholders in pressing for nuclear disarmament. This framing represents a welcome turn toward a more vigorous approach to disarmament and non-proliferation education. First Committee will likely pass a disarmament education resolution this year, and the TPNW and UNODA’s Occasional Paper offer opportunities to educate governments on their responsibilities to support disarmament education, as well as build political will.

To read our article, click here.


November 5, 2017
by mbolton

Tribute to Bishop Cornelius Korir

Bishop Korir helps a family rebuild their house after the post-election violence of 2007/2008.

It is with great sadness that the International Disarmament Institute has learned of the passing of a dear friend and partner, Bishop Cornelius Korir of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret in Kenya. At great risk to himself, Bishop Korir intervened personally to address violence in the North Rift region of Kenya, notably in conflict following elections in 1992, 1997 and 2007/2008. He was known to step between groups of fighters, mobilize care for wounded people, build connections across lines of hostility and encourage antagonists to seek healing and reconciliation.

“We wish to offer our deepest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Bishop Korir, as well as the Diocese of Eldoret,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, Director of the International Disarmament Institute. “He was a courageous witness for peace, social justice and reconciliation in Kenya, but his voice also resonated far beyond East Africa, inspiring many of us around the world to work for peace at the grassroots level.”

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October 8, 2017
by mbolton

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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June 23, 2017
by mbolton

UN Side Event Highlights Importance of Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation in Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Roland Oldham, president of Moruroa e Tatou, an organization representing the rights of victims of nuclear weapons testing in Tahiti, presenting at the UN during negotiations of a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.

Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute co-hosted a panel with the Irish Mission on positive obligations in the draft Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty at United Nations Headquarters on 21 June 2017. The event was also co-sponsored by Article 36, Mines Action Canada, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic.

We were honored to hear from His Excellency Ambassador David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Ireland and Deputy Permanent Representative Tim Mawe, who both expressed Ireland’s strong support for positive obligations of victim assistance, environmental remediation, disarmament education and international cooperation and assistance in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. They suggested that similar provisions in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, negotiated in Dublin, could serve as useful models.

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June 15, 2017
by mbolton

Side Event on Positive Obligations in a Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons

Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute will co-host a panel on positive obligations in the draft Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty at United Nations Headquarters, 1.15-2.45pm, 21 June 2017 in Conference Room B.

During the March negotiation session of the nuclear weapons ban treaty, 27 states plus the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the ICRC and civil society called for the new legal instrument to include not only a comprehensive set of prohibitions but also positive obligations on states parties. The first draft of the treaty responded to these calls and incorporated general provisions on positive obligations. Negotiating states should now work to expand and strengthen the provisions in order to maximize their effectiveness.

This panel discussion and dialogue will assess the positive obligations in the first draft of the treaty, suggest ways to improve them, and highlight why such revisions would be particularly important to the prohibition treaty. Including positive obligations would enhance the treaty, its operation and impact and is consistent with recent international weapons prohibition treaties. Such positive obligations could include:

  • Rights and remedial measures (e.g. environmental remediation, risk education, victim assistance),
  • Promotion of the treaty and of its norms (e.g. universalization and disarmament education),
  • International cooperation and assistance to implement the above two sets of obligations.

By promoting the inclusion of strong positive obligations in the new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons, this event will help ensure that the treaty not only builds on previous humanitarian disarmament treaties but it also contributes to the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.

Featured speakers include:

  • H.E. David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN
  • Roland Oldham, Moruroa e Tatou (MET), President of an organization advocating for the rights of victims of nuclear testing in Tahiti
  • Bonnie Docherty, Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic, expert on humanitarian disarmament law
  • Erin Hunt, Mines Action Canada, expert on victim assistance
  • Elizabeth Minor, Article 36, expert on humanitarian disarmament
  • Matthew Bolton, Director of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute

This event in co-sponsored by the UN Mission of Ireland, Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic, Mines Action Canada, Article 36 and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Click here for the full flyer.

To read an analysis of positive obligations in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty by the International Disarmament Institute, click here.

May 31, 2017
by mbolton

The Role of Education in Advancing Arms Trade Treaty Universalization and Implementation: Lessons Learned from ATT Academy East Africa 2016-2017

Participants of the ATT Academy meet in Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya.

The 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), negotiated and adopted at the UN in New York, offers opportunities to limit the potential for conventional weapons to be used to commit crimes against humanity, terrorism, organized crime, violations of human rights and humanitarian law and acts of gender-based violence. It currently has 90 state parties, but some states that were strong champions of the Treaty have not yet acceded to it. Many states that have joined the
ATT nevertheless report they need technical assistance and training to implement the Treaty effectively.

Responding to these concerns, Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute in partnership with the Control Arms Secretariat organized the ATT Academy 2016-2017, a year-long program of education, research and training on the Treaty for carefully selected East and Horn of Africa officials and key civil society activists. This project was supported by the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).

In this report on lessons learned in the project, participants report that the ATT Academy provided them with in-depth knowledge of the ATT, enabling them address accession and implementation challenges in the region. Organizers learned that the ATT universalization and implementation effort will require an educational component, to share information, technical expertise and lessons learned. A targeted, intensive, longterm, in-person and contextualized program of training is better than one-off seminars. High-impact pedagogies like simulations and group discussions are often more effective than a lecture format alone.

To read the full report, click here.

May 31, 2017
by mbolton

Le Rôle de l’Éducation dans l’Avancement de l’Universalisation et de la Mise en Oeuvre du Traité sur le Commerce des Armes: Enseignements tirés de l’Académie du TCA en Afrique de l’Est, 2016–2017

Le Traité sur le commerce des armes (TCA) de 2013, négocié et adopté au siège de l’ONU à New York, vise à limiter l’utilisation des armes classiques dans le cadre de crimes contre l’humanité, d’actions terroristes, de criminalité organisée, de violations des droits de l’homme et du droit humanitaire, et d’actes de violences sexistes. Il compte actuellement 90 États parties, mais certains des États qui l’ont ardemment défendu n’y ont pas encore adhéré. De nombreux États signataires du TCA ont communiqué un besoin d’assistance technique et de formation pour pouvoir assurer la mise en oeuvre efficace du Traité.

En réponse à ces préoccupations, en 2016–2017, l’International Disarmament Institute de Pace University, en partenariat avec le Secrétariat de la Coalition Contrôlez les armes, a mis en place l’Académie du TCA, un programme d’éducation, de recherche et de formation sur le Traité d’une durée d’un an, adressé à des fonctionnaires soigneusement sélectionnés et d’importants militants de la société civile dans la région de l’Est et de la Corne de l’Afrique. Les participants ont indiqué que l’Académie du TCA leur a permis d’acquérir une connaissance approfondie du Traité, et ainsi d’aborder les défis posés par l’adhésion au TCA et sa mise en oeuvre dans la région.

De leur côté, les organisateurs ont appris que l’effort d’universalisation et de mise en oeuvre du TCA nécessiterait une composante éducative afin de partager l’information, l’expertise technique et les enseignements tirés. Un programme de formation intensif ciblé, à long terme, en personne et contextuel est mieux adapté qu’une série de séminaires ponctuels. Les pédagogies à impact élevé, comme les simulations et les discussions de groupe, sont plus efficaces que les conférences seules.

Cliquez ici.

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