Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament Policy Papers

Last year, the Pacific Islands Society launched a new program entitled the Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament. The program was designed to provide young leaders from the Pacific Islands Region with an opportunity to have their voice heard on contemporary disarmament topics.

In partnership with the Federation of American Scientists,  Emerging Science and Technology Policy Centre, Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies (CANZPS) at Georgetown University, and Pacific Society at SOAS,the 2013 program welcomed young leaders from American Samoa and Papua New Guinea last spring.

Since then, the participants have been exploring the complex world of diplomacy and disarmament under the careful mentorship of senior diplomats from a number of diplomatic missions in Geneva. Additional mentorship was also provided by academics, think tank fellows, and outside experts .

Today, we are pleased to conclude the program with the publication of their “Statements to the Conference on Disarmament.” These statements reflect the personal views of the participants on how the Conference on Disarmament can better advance the global discourse on disarmament and thereby promote the interests of the Pacific Islands Region.

These statements are the latest in a series of writing assignments conducted as part of the program. This includes previous opinion pieces for the FAS Blog that challenged the young leaders to consider both sides of the debate on the future of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament.

In the next few weeks, these statements will be printed, bound, and delivered to diplomatic missions in Geneva and to various members of Congress in the United States. A copy will also be provided to the SOAS Library for archival purposes.

Following the success of the inaugural class of Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament, the Pacific Islands Society will announce a call for 2014-2015 Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament in September of this year.

In addition to the Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament Program, the Pacific Islands Society will be launching two new programmes this spring, namely the Pacific Young Leaders on Trade and Investment and the Pacific Young Leaders on Public Diplomacy. Applications for participants in the 2014-2015 inaugural class will open 1st May 2014.

About the Scholars: 

Charity Anna Porotesano recently graduated from Grinnell College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In 2012, The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation recognized her exceptional leadership potential when she was made a Truman Scholar. Porotesano has since returned to her home of American Samoa to work in education and serve as a youth representative on the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Charity’s statement is available here (PDF).

Keiko Ono is a recent graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Development Studies. Of Papua New Guinean-Japanese decent, Ono has a strong interest in gender, development and diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region. She also cares passionately about access to higher education having served as the elected Co-President the future of SOAS 2012-2013, where she played a central role in the management and oversight role in over 190 student-led activities. Keiko’s statement is available here (PDF).

 

Inquiries about any the 2013-14 PYL-D Program – Contact: [email protected]

Opportunities to Support the 2014-15 PYL-D Program – Contact: [email protected]

Pacific Security Scholars Policy Papers

Pacific Security Scholars (PSS) policy papers are now available, examining  security issues and policy implications of emerging security issues in the Pacific region. Lora Vaioleti examines the impact of climate change on food security in Tonga and Briar Thompson examines the impact of 3D Printing on security in Pacific Island Countries.

The inaugural class of the Pacific Security Scholars (PSS) Program provided leading post-graduate and research degree students from Pacific Island countries with an opportunity to be part of the global discourse on “International Security and the Pacific Islands.” The Federation of American Scientists, Pacific Islands Society, Emerging Science and Technology Policy Centre, Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies (CANZPS) at Georgetown University, and Pacific Society at SOAS joined as official partners for its inaugural year.

Under the close guidance  of leading experts in relevant fields, the participants the unique challenges faced by the Pacific Islands. The papers produced by the program’s inaugural class includes in-depth analyses on a security issues ranging from climate change to food security. Their insights are designed to offer tangible policy recommendations to policymakers and policy stakeholders. In so doing, it is hoped that they will provide a valuable mechanism for empowering young leaders from the region to be recognized as next generation leaders for emerging security issues on the world stage.

About the Scholars:

Briar Thompson is a Rhodes Scholar from New Zealand pursuing graduate study at Somerville College, University of Oxford. She has completed an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, in which her thesis focused on how the protection needs of those vulnerable to displacement linked to environmental stress might be provided, with particular reference to Pacific small island states. Starting this fall, Briar will be reading for the Master of Public Policy at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, where she intends to continue relating her studies to the Pacific region. Briar’s essay examines the impact of 3D printing in Pacific Island countries and security concerns associated with this technology and is available here (PDF).

Lora Vaioleti is a Fulbright scholar who recently worked in a leadership development and strategy role for the Global Islands Partnership (GLISPA). A New Zealander of Tongan ancestry, her work has centred on exploring human security challenges within the wider Pacific, especially in regards to climate change and forced relocation. To this end, Vaioleti has led national, regional, and international research projects for a number of Pacific-focused organizations. A continuing research fellow for the Center of Unconventional Security Affairs at the University of California, Irvine, and the Indigenous Maori and Pacific Adult Education Charitable Trust (IMPAECT), she continues to research the latent value of traditional Pacific social practices in increasing human security and social resilience to both abrupt and long-term climate change effects. Vaioleti received a Masters of Management with a concentration in Sustainability from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, and a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Lora’s essay examines climate change and its effect on food security in Tonga and is available here (PDF).

Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament Reach Major Milestone

This spring, the Federation of American Scientists, Emerging Science and Technology Policy Centre, and Pacific Islands Society announced the launch of the 2013-14 Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament – a pilot project of the Young Leaders on Disarmament Program.

Since then, the inaugural class of young leaders has been hard at work learning about the difficult challenges facing the Conference on Disarmament. To do so, they turned to senior diplomats from the American, British, and Japanese diplomatic missions in Geneva to garner insider views. They also reached out to outside experts to solicit their perspectives.

From this research, the Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament have produced their own series on the topic of “Is the Conference on Disarmament Still Relevant?” Their essays look at the question from both sides of the argument:

With the publication of this series, the participants will now embark on the second stage of the project. Leveraging their deeper understanding of the issues plaguing the Conference on Disarmament, they will author their own draft statements to the Conference on Disarmament.

Upon completion, these statements will be bound and delivered to the various diplomatic missions in Geneva that are members of the Conference on Disarmament next spring.

 

Making the Conference on Disarmament Work

Action taken in the aftermath of a catastrophic attack is an action already too late. Think about Syria and the chemical weapons attack. Think about the innocent lives lost and what could have been done to prevent it.

As governments around the world reacted to the Syrian crisis, one thing was clear —weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have a distinct ability to mobilize world leaders into action. But reaction is not prevention.

States must continually work to ensure that attacks do not occur in the first place. For this reason, multilateral forums are essential. They provide a space for states to work together to prevent atrocities before they are carried out. When it comes to WMD, this forum already exits.

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) is the world’s foremost multilateral disarmament forum designed to negotiate, on a consensus basis, treaties that prevent catastrophic attacks. Yet, its track record is contested, inconsistent, and —like all fragile relationships— troubled by trust issues.

Like any relationship, it has had its high points. The successful negotiation behind the Biological Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty attests to the CD’s capacity as a multilateral institution.

But in more recent times, the relationship has hit a rough patch, plagued by arguments and entrenched positions. Participants have been using the consensus rule to block negotiations on the next logical disarmament step, the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty (FMCT). And as a result, the CD has been stuck at an impasse—for 17 years now.

To overcome this impasse, many nuclear and non-nuclear states have decided to extend disarmament discussions to outside forums. The United Nations Permanent Five (P-5) states on the Security Council have begun holding their own conferences on the issue. Newer bodies also are emerging, including the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG), where non-nuclear states hope to engage in freer, more creative discussions.

At first glance, discussions outside the CD may appear a good idea. But on closer inspection, they will prove otherwise. As these states have begun working outside the CD, they have merely formed groups with like-minded peers, reinforcing viewpoints they already share and leading to little in the way of a breakthrough.

In March, United States (US) Ambassador Laura Kennedy announced that the P-5 is committed to upholding the step-by-step negotiating approach of the CD and will not participate in the OEWG. Two months later, the OEWG responded by saying it remained committed to finding an alternative process to the step-by-step approach. These statements only serve to underscore the existing division and mistrust between nuclear and non-nuclear states.

These trust issues will persist, whether or not disarmament is negotiated in the CD. Despite the deadlock in negotiations that have given rise to these outside forums, there is still no other viable alternative to the CD. In 17 years, no new framework has arisen to replace it. The CD remains the strongest forum for multilateral disarmament, hands down, specifically because it brings every single nuclear state and many of their non-nuclear neighbors to the same table. This fact cannot be overstated.

In my home of American Samoa we do something similar. Traditional leaders, our chiefs, set up village council meetings to discuss issues. Ideally, consensus is reached and the high chief makes a final decision. But there’s more to it.

This system works because of how the relationship has evolved over time. Village residents accept the decision because they respect the high chief’s wisdom. Our chiefs still wield a lot of power over communal issues. Knowing that they must work together in the future, families rarely challenge the chiefs’ authority. Issues are usually resolved quite quickly, because no one wants these matters to move beyond their control and into the courts.

This type of system reminds us that although leaders are expected to make decisions based on good faith what really drives individuals to act are the relationships within the decision-making apparatus. There is an unspoken social and political pressure to handle issues quickly and communally, before they spiral beyond our control. The CD would be wise to remember this.

If the FMCT is to have any chance of moving forward, state negotiators must first work on establishing more trust in their relationships—and the CD is still the best place to do so. Stronger trust fosters better collaboration. It helps future negotiations, and it will help to strengthen enforcement of the landmark conventions the CD has already put in place to make this a safer world.

There are an estimated 17,300 nuclear weapons still out there, presumably in less than a dozen countries; so action is very much needed. In order for treaties to hold these nuclear states accountable, and in order for next steps like the FMCT to be taken, the participation of all states in the decision-making process is essential. This is why the CD exists. This is why there is no better solution.

As U.S. President Barack Obama stated in his 2009 disarmament pledge in Prague, “This goal will not be reached quickly– perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, ‘Yes, we can.’”

 

Charity Porotesano is a 2013 Pacific Young Leader on Disarmament and a 2012 Truman Scholar. She lives in American Samoa where she works in education and serves as a youth representative on the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

New Structures Required to Move Disarmament Forward

Imagine a large convoy trying to navigate with a compass but no map. Somewhere along the way, it hits what appears to be a dead end. The convoy grinds to a halt and the drivers get out in hopes of reaching a unanimous decision on which route to take. No one’s worried at this point. They have made it this far after all. How hard could it be to find consensus on a way forward?

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) is the real-world embodiment of this hypothetical convoy. Its 65 drivers simply cannot find consensus on a way forward. And, as a consequence, the CD is now at a standstill following decades of collective progress on disarmament.

So, how did we get to this point? Part of the blame rests with the self-imposed structural constraints within the CD. While the universal and democratic nature of the CD’s rules of procedure is not without merit, it simply is not working.

Take the alphabetical rotation of the presidency and the rule of consensus as examples. While these have been two of the CD’s most lauded features, the rotation of over ninety presidents (the preceding being Iran, which, was not without its problems) and the CD’s failure to reach consensus since 1996 have produced little more than a broken record of rhetoric, whose raison d’être rests solely on moratorium.

The CD’s lack of progress has fueled lots of criticism. To many, certain CD members have failed to demonstrate a substantive commitment to working in good faith to move the organization forward. This has resulted in the CD becoming an “oblivious island of inactivity.” United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon summed up this criticism in his 2010 address to the UNGA when he bemoaned the fact that the CD was now at a “critical juncture” and risked being doomed to irrelevance without a general revitalization.

In response to this criticism, the organization has arguably re-focused on transparency and confidence building measures among members over the last three years. Unfortunately, this has come at the expense of making substantive progress on universal disarmament. It is no wonder then that the CD’s longstanding reputation as  “the single forum of multilateral negotiations towards disarmament” has been challenged by alternative international forums that have sprung-up in response to the CD’s well-publicized shortcomings.

The Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) and the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons are but two examples of how the international movement for disarmament has moved beyond the CD. While representatives in these forums are not mandated to negotiate treaties, their discussions are fed back into the CD and other international governmental organizations. These organizations have proven more effective and innovative because their different codes of conduct have allowed for more open and inclusive discussions.

Granted, there are qualms in not having all nuclear-armed states always present in these discussions. However, one should not understate the impact that these forums could make in the field of disarmament. As outlined in one of the papers presented by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) to the OEWG, non-armed states can be authoritative voices on disarmament. After all, some of these are states still dealing with the entrenchment of nuclear arms in non-armed states from wartime alliances such as NATO. Papers presented to the OEWG called on these states to lead by example, by rejecting nuclear weapons from being stationed on their territories. Civil society groups have also been adding their voice to the global disarmament discourse, providing policy alternatives such as divestment and the possibility to incorporate greater involvement from corporate groups through domestic legal frameworks.

What makes these forums significant is that they have been borne from a clear commitment to engage in seeking reforms within an environment conducive to such discussion that is not currently offered under the CD. Furthermore, the wide array of attendees who actively participated in its actualization is remarkable. Pacific Island countries (PICs) need to recognize this, and recognize that our own vulnerability warrants greater reason to voice concern and to actively engage in these discussions as well. Breaking down the CD’s state-centric discourse and its exclusive and subjective terms of membership to “civil” states, is not only necessary, but well overdue.

This is not, of course, to dismiss the CDs past accomplishments. But one cannot live in the past. Articulating the CD’s many milestones only illustrates the long lull of inertia that has characterized the CD since 1996. And, it brings into question the CD’s continued relevance.

To be clear, acknowledging the increasing irrelevance of the CD does not mean we have surrendered to the status quo. The CD has not so much become irrelevant as it has a reference point, a stepping-stone in our collective journey towards disarmament. Political will remains all but latent within the confines of the CD and the mournful lament over its absence is a disservice to its growing persistence elsewhere. It’s time to move on and find new pathways to disarmament. We cannot afford to rely on the CD as the sole medium of mobilizing change.

If we are to achieve disarmament in our lifetime, we must continue to enforce the need to disarm. We must acknowledge that the will to do so and the conditions under which it can happen vary. States and other stakeholders committed to reaching disarmament must then be encouraged to create new structures through which this can be achieved.

 

Keiko Ono is a 2013 Pacific Young Leader on Disarmament. She is of joint Japanese and Papua New Guinean descent.

Mentors for the Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament Announced

The Federation of American ScientistsPacific Islands Society, and Emerging Science and Technology Policy Centre are pleased to announce that three major diplomatic missions have agreed to provide mentors for the 2013 – 2014 Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament. The participating Geneva-based missions include Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

guy Guy Pollard joined the British Diplomatic Service in 1991. He has been at the forefront of UK arms control policy including the negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) since 2004 and was the author of the ATT process and the Final Conferences. In part for his work as part of the UK team that negotiated the Oslo Cluster Munitions Convention in 2008 and service as the UK expert to the UN Conventional Arms Register review process, Pollard was awarded the Royal Honour Member in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in December 2012 for services to humanitarian arms control and the Arms Trade Treaty.

 

kristine

Kristine L. Pelz, a career U.S. diplomat, has been the Senior Advisor/Executive Secretary to the U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament since August 2011.  She serves as principal point of contact for the Delegation on issues related to biological and conventional weapons, and also as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the UN First Committee (Disarmament) in New York each October.  In addition to previous assignments as Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and at the U.S. Mission to NATO, she has served in Afghanistan, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and the Seychelles.

 

chiriro

Chihiro Mochizuki is the First Secretary at the Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament. Born in 1977 in Tokyo, he graduated from of the University of Tokyo with a law degree and shortly thereafter entered the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Posted in Geneva since 2011, Mochizuki is in charge of handling all matters related to the Conference on Disarmament and other nuclear disarmament issues.

 

 

Each of these mentors will provide the program’s young leaders with first-hand knowledge of WMD policymaking at the Conference on Disarmament. Their insider perspectives and expert experience will benefit the young leaders as they work to draft their own statement to the Conference on Disarmament for the start of the 2014 Session.

Mr. Eddie Walsh, FAS Adjunct Fellow for Emerging Threats and High-end Technologies, is overseeing the program. He can be reached at [email protected] for any follow-up questions regarding this program.

Inaugural Class of Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament Announced

FAS and the Pacific Islands Society (PacSoc) are pleased to announce the inaugural class of Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament.

calvinCalvin Ziru comes from the Solomon Islands and is a lawyer by profession. He is currently a Chevening Scholarship recipient, completing a Master of Arts in Politics and International Relations at the Durham University in England. Previous to this, Calvin was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2009-2012), Parliamentary Secretariat and Legal Officer to the National Parliament Office of Solomon Islands (2007-2009), and Legal Associate in a commercial private practice in Fiji (2004-2007).

charityCharity Anna Porotesano recently graduated from Grinnell College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In 2012, The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation recognized her exceptional leadership potential when she was made a Truman Scholar. Porotesano has since returned to her home of American Samoa to work in education and serve as a youth representative on the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

keikoKeiko Ono is a recent graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Development Studies. Of Papua New Guinean-Japanese decent, Ono has a strong interest in development and diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region. She also cares passionately about the future of SOAS where she currently works as the elected Co-President of SOAS Students Union. In this capacity, Ono plays a central management and oversight role in over 190 student-led activities.

Over the next six months, these young leaders will draft a short series of blog posts on contemporary counter-proliferation and disarmament issues. These will be designed to better familiarize the young leaders with opportunities and challenges currently facing the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Each will then be asked to draft a “Statement to the Conference on Disarmament.” These statements will provide their personal views on how the CD could, in the words of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, better live up to expectations. After publishing these statements on the FAS  Blog, FAS/PacSoc staff intend to deliver the collection of statements to various Geneva-based diplomatic missions based to coincide with the start of the 2014 CD session.

Mr. Eddie Walsh, Adjunct Fellow for Emerging Threats and High-end Technologies, is overseeing the program. He can be reached at [email protected] for any follow-up questions regarding this program.