International Disarmament Institute
Non-Violence, a sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The International Disarmament Institute is an academic center providing world-class education and research on global disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation policymaking. The Institute aims to generate and disseminate new thinking on the humanitarian and human rights policy and other challenges posed by weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons and methods of armed violence that have indiscriminate and/or disproportionate effects, the arms trade, emerging weapons technology and militarization. It also plays a “Track Two” convening role for associated diplomatic, advocacy, activist, scholarly and practitioner communities. The Institute is only two express subway stops from United Nations Headquarters, housed with the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science on Pace University’s New York City campus.
Global Disarmament and Arms Control Policymaking
Tens of thousands of civilians are killed or injured by explosive weapons every year. There are almost 16,000 nuclear warheads in the world, of which the U.S. and Russia keep 1,800 on high-alert – prone to accidents and malfunction. The illicit arms trade is worth millions of dollars worldwide and exacerbates instability in conflict-prone regions. While disarmament has fallen out of the policy discussion in the United States, the impact of weapons on people remains a serious concern within the global policymaking community.
The UN General Assembly’s first resolution called for the “elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.” This was followed shortly by General Assembly Resolution 41 calling for the negotiation of treaties “governing the general regulation and reduction of armaments.” Since then, numerous treaties have been negotiated establishing a global regime regulating the use, transfer and development of weapons. These include the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, 1977 Environmental Modification Convention, 1981 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, 1997 Antipersonnel Landmine Ban Treaty, 2008 Cluster Munition Convention and 2013 Arms Trade Treaty. There is also a lively community of NGOs that monitor, advise and challenge this regime to be more sensitive to the human costs of armed violence.
Pace University’s Role in Disarmament Education and Research
East African officials and advocates attend a 2016 workshop of the Arms Trade Treaty Academy in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya, a project of Pace University and Control Arms Secretariat, funded by the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).
In 1968 the UN General Assembly called “upon…national and international scientific institutions and organizations to co-operate” with the UN in “research on disarmament” (A/RES/24/54). The UN has on numerous occasions called for the development of “Disarmament Education”, such as in UNESCO’s 1980 World Congress on Disarmament Education and a 2002 report by the UN Secretary General. In 2013 the General Assembly stated that the “need for disarmament and nonproliferation education, particularly among youth has never been greater” (A/RES/67/47). In December 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2250, calling for increased “inclusive representation of youth” in “prevention and resolution of conflict” and for “quality education for peace.” This suggests an expressed need for universities to engage in providing the rigorous evidence base, advice and training needed for well-founded global policymaking on disarmament. However, there are few universities that have worked actively and specifically on disarmament education and research in the international arena, almost none with undergraduate students and none in New York.
Nevertheless, Pace has a long history of disarmament education and research. Its Model United Nations program dates back to a 1950 simulation that was the first in the UN building. For many years, Professor Benjamin Ferencz, one of the prosecutors at the Nuremburg trials of Nazi War Criminals, ran the Pace Peace Center at the School of Law. Professor Ferencz’s theoretical work outlined some of the foundations of modern international law and advocated strongly for comprehensive disarmament. Fred Branfman, the peace activist who blew the whistle on the US’s secret aerial bombardment of Laos and called attention to the devastation caused by cluster munitions, taught at Pace in the 1990s. Dr. Dietrich Fischer, who taught Computer Science at Pace from 1988 to 2003, published numerous books and articles on disarmament and arms control, including Preventing War in the Nuclear Age.
In more recent years, Pace University has launched the only Peace and Justice Studies (PJS) major in Manhattan. Director of the PJS program, Dr. Emily Welty and other Pace faculty have addressed the UN General Assembly First Committee, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the 2015 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on disarmament issues. Meanwhile, Pace’s Department of Political Science has hosted the annual Humanitarian Disarmament Forum and has placed students in internships and volunteering opportunities with relevant advocacy organizations.
In 2016, the Department of Political Science received an almost $194,000 grant from the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR) to establish a training program for East African officials on the Arms Trade Treaty in partnership with the Control Arms Secretariat. Later that year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted Pace University’s “growing role in disarmament education”, noting the faculty’s research, Model UN program, PJS major and Non-Profit Studies minor, as well as training on the Arms Trade Treaty.
The International Disarmament Institute contributed extensive expert advice to the negotiations of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty at the UN in New York in 2017, including contributing an official working paper on potential provisions on victim assistance, environmental remediation and disarmament education.
For news, updates and the latest reports from the International Disarmament Institute, please visit our news site.