Young Women and Next Generation Initiative

The International Affairs Institute (IAI) and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation (VCDNP) in the framework of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium (EUNPDC) have launched the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI) to encourage young women and the next generation to enter the non‑proliferation, arms control and disarmament field.

 

Inspired by the widely perceived age and gender imbalances among experts and practitioners in the non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament field, the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI) aims to help address such imbalances by exposing college and university level students, especially women, to arms control issues, increasing their awareness of them and encouraging their participation in events and workshops. The goal is to help students understand how to pursue a career in the field, making the best use of their own skills.

 

The Initiative will include the organisation of outreach events, the establishment of a mentorship programme, and the convening of workshops and meetings.

 

For more information, please visit IAI and VCDNP‘s dedicated webpages on the Initiative.

 

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact eunpdc@iai.it.

 

 

 

Young Women in Non-proliferation and Disarmament Mentorship programme

A Young Women in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (YWNPD) Mentorship Programme has been created under the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI), in the framework of the EUNPDC.

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Next Generation Workshops

The Next-Generation Workshops will focus on the development of ‘next generation’ specialists, including from countries outside Europe and North America, who will be invited to an extra day before or after the annual conference for specialised training and exposure to relevant EU institutions.

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OUTREACH EVENTS

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Young Women and Next Generation Initiative in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Mentorship Programme – 1st Edition Final Meeting

On 28-29 April 2022, the IAI and the VCDNP organized the Final Meeting of the first edition of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Mentorship Programme.

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[embeddoc url="https://www.nonproliferation.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/FinalMeeting_Concept-Note-and-Agenda.pdf" download="all" viewer="google"]   On 28-29 April 2022, as part of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI), the International Affairs Institute (IAI) and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP), with the support of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium, organized the final meeting of the 1st  edition of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Mentorship Programme , an initiative aimed to pair successful candidates (mentees) with well-established experts (mentors) and engage in a mentoring relationship. During this last year, Mentees had the opportunity to attend relevant conferences and outreach events on non-proliferation, disarmament, arms control and related topics, including the EUNPDC Annual Conference and the Next Generation Workshop. Networking and career opportunities have been also facilitated through seminars, social events and other activities.   Previous events can be found here.   The event was divided into three thematic panels. The first panel addressed current and emerging challenges and opportunities in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Moderated by Elena Sokova (VCDNP), it featured some of the Mentors of the programme, including: Sybille Bauer (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI), Renata Hessmann (The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, UNIDIR), Filippa Lentzos (King's College London), and Jenny Nielsen (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, CTBTO).     During the second panel, three Mentees of the programme, Intan Bedisa (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, INFID), Stella Blumfelde (University of Genoa) and Emily Faux (University of Leeds), presented on issues related to non-proliferation and disarmament, specifically: regional approaches to nuclear non-proliferation, cybersecurity and disinformation, and popular culture and nuclear politics respectively. The panel was co-moderated by Mara Zarka (VCDNP) and Manuel Herrera (IAI).   The last panel was devoted to a comprehensive evaluation of the programme with a view to receiving feedbacks and making improvements for future editions. The open discussion was moderated by Federica Dall’Arche (VCDNP).     The event was opened by IAI Director Nathalie Tocci, while closing remarks were delivered by Ettore Greco (IAI).   For more information, please visit the website of the initiative below: https://www.nonproliferation.eu/activities/education-programmes/young-women-and-next-generation-initiative/    
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Young Women and Next Generation Initiative – Fourth Outreach Event

The International Affairs Institute (IAI) and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non Proliferation (VCDNP) will organize a virtual event entitled: “Working at International Organizations: Tips and Insights for the Next Generation – the BWC and the OPCW.” The event will be held on Thursday, 31 March 2022 from 3:00 to 4:15 PM (CEST) via […]

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The International Affairs Institute (IAI) and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non Proliferation (VCDNP) will organize a virtual event entitled: “Working at International Organizations: Tips and Insights for the Next Generation – the BWC and the OPCW.” The event will be held on Thursday, 31 March 2022 from 3:00 to 4:15 PM (CEST) via Zoom. The webinar will feature introductory presentations by representatives from the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) of the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Speakers will share their personal experience in the field and provide insights and information, including how to enter and advance in a career in the non-proliferation and disarmament field with a focus on biological and chemical sciences. Following the experts’ remarks, the meeting will be open for questions and comments from the audience. The event will be open to the general public and will be held as a part of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative, led by the VCDNP and the International Affairs Institute (IAI) in the framework and with the support of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (EUNPD) Consortium. ACCESS THE AGENDA HERE ACCESS THE REGISTRATION FORM HERE The opinions/views expressed by the speakers in the event do not necessarily reflect the opinions/views of the International Affairs Institute nor the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation nor their employees.

Working at International Organisations: Tips and Insights for the Next Generation – the BWC and the OPCW

On 31 March 2022, the VCDNP and the IAI organized the fourth YWNGI webinar, featuring representatives from the BWC-ISU and the OPCW.

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On 31 March 2022, as part of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI), the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and the International Affairs Institute (IAI) with the support of the EU Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium, organized the fourth YWNGI public outreach event. The event was dedicated to tips and insights for working at international organisations, and, in particular, those who oversee the prohibition of biological and chemical weapons. Previous events can be found here. Aimed at both young professionals and students, especially young women, the webinar featured Daniel Feakes, Chief of the Implementation Support Unit of the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC-ISU), and Elisabeth Waechter, Head of the Public Affairs Branch of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The event was opened with welcome remarks by IAI Executive Vice PresidentEttore Greco and moderated by VCDNP Senior Research Associate Federica Dall’Arche. Daniel Feakes started his remarks with the hindsight of his own career path. Starting with an internship in academia focused on chemical and biological issues, he has now been working in the field for over 20 years. Feakes noted how a technical degree is not required in order to enter the field and that history, international relations, and regional studies students are all well equipped for a career in this field. Feakes then provided a brief overview of the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC), highlighting its key functions such as sustaining the unequivocal norm against these weapons, creating the platform for a global dialogue, promoting peaceful uses of biological agents and toxins, and building transparency among States. He also provided an overview of the work of the ISU, which is based in the Geneva Branch of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). Feakes noted that nowadays young people can find numerous professional and educational opportunities online, pointing specifically to the UNODA website, including information on the Youth4Disarmament initiative.  He also highlighted the United Nations career opportunities for youth, which include internships, the Young Professionals Programme (YPP), and the Junior Professional Officer Programme (JPO). Among other opportunities, Feakes mentioned several intended for young scientists including the 6th Annual Next Generation For Biosecurity Competition, IFBA Global Mentorship program, iGEM 2022 Grand Jamboree, Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Fellowship, and Biosecurity Champions Fellowship. He concluded his remarks by mentioning the Youth Declaration for Biosecurity that was developed by young scientists participating in the Second Edition of the Biosecurity Diplomacy Workshop for Young Scientists from the Global South held in 2021. “Such opportunities can arise from networking and collective brain power, collective activism, dedication, and commitment.” Elisabeth Waechter provided an overview of the OPCW and its work. Waechter noted that the OPCW is the implementing body of the legally binding Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which aims to eliminate chemical weapons in all aspects, including development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use. In 2013, the Organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons. This was particularly timely given the OPCW’s active involvement in overseeing the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme in the safest and most secure manner possible since the country’s accession to the CWC in 2013. She also explained the history, goals and mandate of the OPCW, highlighting that the Organisation also works on preventing the use of chemical weapons and potential responses to such use, and promotes peaceful uses of chemistry. In reference to her career, Waechter defined herself as an experienced international civil servant having worked in numerous UN bodies, many of which were focused on disarmament. When speaking about her work within the OPCW, she highlighted that one of the key areas her Division is tasked with is the achievement of the CWC’s universality. In this regard, Waechter stressed the importance of communication in the disarmament field, especially since it does not always receive the attention it deserves:“There is a lot to do and learn in the area of science communication and communication around disarmament.”Waechter noted that the OPCW is always recruiting, therefore she encouraged the audience to explore the OPCW’s twitter, LinkedIn, and employment pages, highlighting the paid internship opportunities available in different sectors within the Organisation. The discussion following the presentations covered a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from the most appropriate fields of study to ways to stand out, including the most useful skills and core competencies to acquire. Among the traditionally desirable skills like strong English language and knowledge of other languages, leadership, teamwork, intercultural communications, creativity, willingness to learn, and IT skills were also mentioned. “Anything that is related to social media, layout and design of publication and infographics - those additional skills certainly help people to stand out from the crowd.” Speakers also provided information regarding the recruitment process and shared tips for solid applications and successful competency-based interviews. Both speakers encouraged applicants to be patient and to keep trying even when faced with numerous rejections. They stressed that it is a myth that you will not get hired if you do not know someone within the organisation or wider UN network, emphasizing: “If you do not apply you will not have a chance”. The event concluded with both representatives sharing their personal motivation to work in the biological and chemical disarmament field. Waechter stressed that as an international servant for 17 years, she could not imagine doing any other work indicating that “what drives me is the realisation that what we do matters, that it is important.” Feakes agreed and added that both passion and motivation are needed in order to do this type of job, concluding that “the main purpose of what we are doing, preventing biological or chemical weapons from being developed and used, that is the kind of noble thing to be doing.” The full recording of the outreach event can be found below: https://youtu.be/GIupdeBfVGY For more information:  

Do You Aspire to Work at an International Organization? Tips and Insights for Young Professionals.

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) cordially invites you to attend a virtual event for young professionals and students interested in working at and engaging with international  organisations in Vienna, which will be held on Monday, 6 September 2021 from 15:00 to 16:30 Central European Summer Time (CEST) via Zoom. For those unable to access Zoom, the event will […]

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The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) cordially invites you to attend a virtual event for young professionals and students interested in working at and engaging with international  organisations in Vienna, which will be held on Monday, 6 September 2021 from 15:00 to 16:30 Central European Summer Time (CEST) via Zoom. For those unable to access Zoom, the event will also be livestreamed to YouTube. What skills and competencies do international organisations look for in the recruitment process? How can you best prepare yourself for a career as an international civil servant? How does the application process work and how best to prepare for an interview? What pathways exist to internships, training and capacity building programmes and other opportunities? Representatives from three international organisations in Vienna – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization (CTBTO), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – will speak to these questions and more during this event. The event will be held as a part of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, led by the VCDNP and the Istituto Affari Internazionali with the support of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium. Speakers: Mr. Pedro Álvarez Cobacho, Recruitment Officer, IAEA Ms. Maria Chepurina, External Relations Officer, CTBTO Ms. Monika Ivic, Talent Acquisition Assistant, OSCE The discussion will be moderated by Elena K. Sokova, Executive Director of the VCDNP and an International Gender Champion, Vienna Hub. The opinions/views expressed by the speakers in the event do not necessarily reflect the opinions/views of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation or its employees.

Registration and Questions

We kindly ask you to RSVP using the online registration form. By registering for this event you acknowledge and agree to the VCDNP Responsible & Respectful Behavior Policy.

The European Union’s Role in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and Its Engagement with Academia and The Younger Generation

On 29 April 2021, as part of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI), the VCDNP and the International Affairs Institute (IAI) in Rome, Italy, with the support of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium (EUNPDC), organized the second public outreach event focused on the EU and its policies on non-proliferation and disarmament, as well […]

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On 29 April 2021, as part of the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI), the VCDNP and the International Affairs Institute (IAI) in Rome, Italy, with the support of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium (EUNPDC), organized the second public outreach event focused on the EU and its policies on non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as its engagement with academia and the younger generation. The panellists included former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice‑President of the European Commission, Rector of the College of Europe, Federica Mogherini, Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Ambassador Marjolijn van Deelen, and the EUNPDC Chair, Dr. Sibylle Bauer. IAI’s Executive Vice President Ettore Greco provided welcome remarks and VCDNP’s Executive Director Elena Sokova moderated the session. Over 300 individuals attended the event, including many of the Young Women in Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Mentorship Programme participants and other EUNPDC next generation conference and training course individuals. The high level of interest demonstrates the strong need for these discussions and opportunities to interact.
Ms. Federica Mogherini
Federica Mogherini shared her experience working as the former High Representative, highlighting the role her team played in 2015 in the final months of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiations with Iran. Stressing that negotiations on the JCPOA are again taking place in Vienna, Austria, Rector Mogherini noted the crucial role of the EU in maintaining and monitoring the agreement, despite the US’s withdrawal in 2018. The EU had a unique role to play in the negotiations as it served as the facilitator and the depository for the text of the agreement. The EU also conducted a fair amount of detailed, technical work on the agreement to make sure nothing was left to interpretation, especially regarding sanctions related issues and nuclear commitments. The facilitator role provided the EU with the institutional basis to reach out to the other parties to the JCPOA after the US withdrew, to ensure that the agreement was preserved and monitored. According to Rector Mogherini, the EU has a role to play in non‑proliferation and disarmament, especially given Europe’s history and experience of devastation when arms control fell short, emphasizing that the EU should become champions in solidifying the international community’s reliability in arms control, non‑proliferation and disarmament infrastructures and regimes.
Ambassador Marjolijn van Deelen
Supporting arms control architecture and treaties, strengthening multilateral institutions, and supporting third countries in developing their arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament architecture is at the core of the EU’s non-proliferation and disarmament strategy. Ambassador Marjolijn van Deelen highlighted that the EU is committed to strengthening the international security environment and recognizes that it cannot tackle global challenges, like those posed by proliferation risks, alone. The EU has multiple institutions focused on non-proliferation and disarmament ranging from the EEAS, which serves as the EU’s diplomatic service, to the EU Commission which manages the EU’s policies on dual-use export controls and the EU Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence, to the Joint Research Centre focused on technical issues related to disarmament verification. Nuclear safeguards in the EU are implemented by EURATOM that also provides valuable expertise on international safeguards development to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and EEAS office. In international fora the EU is active in taking common positions in support of existing treaties, encouraging other States to accede to treaties they are not yet party to, and supporting institutions, like the IAEA and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, that support these treaties. The EU strongly believes in the powers of multilateral diplomacy to resolve problems peacefully and is devoted to ensuring the international system is fit for purpose. To do this, the EU works closely in partnership with other institutions and academia.
Dr. Sibylle Bauer
The European network of independent non-proliferation and disarmament think tanks, was established in 2010 with the full support of all EU Member States to contribute to independent research and education activities in non-proliferation and disarmament. Dr. Sibylle Bauer shared with the audience the make-up of the Network, comprised of over 100 members, and of the Consortium that coordinates its activities . Dr. Bauer also talked about the various activities, of which the YWNGI is included, that the Consortium implements with the support of the EU. Importantly, it was emphasized that the EUNPDC focuses on a wide range of issues in non-proliferation and disarmament, ranging from nuclear, to conventional, to biological, to outer space and emerging technologies. It was also stressed that the EUNPDC is not limited to institutions in EU Member States but also includes members from third countries outside the EU. For more information on the EUNPDC and its activities please consult the nonproliferation.eu website. The prepared remarks were followed by a second round of questions seeking panellists’ advice for young women and the next generation interested in entering the field of arms control, non‑proliferation and disarmament. Rector Mogherini emphasized the importance of leading by example, noting that the EU delegation sometimes was only composed of women whereas their interlocuters were solely comprised of men. She also noted that to really address the imbalances in the field, it is important to start with academia and the curricula they encourage their students to follow. The panellists all agreed on a strong list of seven skills and qualities for both professional and personal growth presented by Dr. Sibylle Bauer:
  1. Clear thinking and solid analysis;
  2. Excellence;
  3. Commitment;
  4. Authenticity;
  5. Integrity;
  6. Empathy, in which active listening and really caring was stressed; and
  7. Creative Problem Solving.
“What also is really important, I think, is to help others not just get a foot in the door but then to help them stay in the field and climb up.” – Sibylle Bauer
Adding to this list, other panellists emphasized the importance of working in teams, indicating that every role in a team is important and no one role should be perceived as any more or less significant.
“You need a mix of people that have different competences and when you put those together you can be much stronger.” – Marjolijn van Deelen
There was resounding agreement that passion and interest in what one is doing is the best guide to navigating one’s career. Also, the panellists encouraged participants to not be afraid to try new things and to be willing to go into depth on topics that may not fall within their educational background, whether it be more policy-oriented or technical.
“I think passion in what you are doing is the only thing that really counts.” – Federica Mogherini
Some highlights from the question-and-answer session include insights into the difficulties in forming a common position in the EU, noting the diversity of the group and the need for fierce, internal debates. Once a common position or statement has been agreed, it serves as an umbrella under which other like-minded countries can align themselves. All speakers stressed that given the divergent views within the EU, when a common position has been adopted, especially on controversial matters, it is a powerful statement that can offer hope to the larger international community and refocus energy on where agreement exists, and action can be taken.

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Follow-Up Meeting

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are currently few opportunities for the next generation to meet around the world and think together about the great challenges of our times. With these words, Elena Sokova, Executive Director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP), opened the 2021 EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation […]

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Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are currently few opportunities for the next generation to meet around the world and think together about the great challenges of our times. With these words, Elena Sokova, Executive Director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP), opened the 2021 EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Follow-Up Meeting. The event – jointly organized by the VCDNP and the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) within the framework of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium – follows the Next Generation Workshop on non-proliferation and disarmament, an initiative held annually that brings together outstanding young scholars, students and professionals to present fresh ideas and solutions to current non-proliferation and disarmament challenges. As stressed by Ettore Greco, Executive Vice President of IAI, it is essential to substantially involve the younger generation on these issues in order to not only identify gaps and barriers in the existing policies, but also to let fresh ideas and new perspectives help to promote innovative forms of cooperation in an era of daunting challenges for multilateralism. Under the same auspices, the Young Women in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Mentorship Programme was launched during the same week. The meeting was attended by more than 120 participants, including women and girls from all over the world and with the most diverse backgrounds. The event was organised in two tracks. The first track was highly informative, during which two prominent experts addressed respectively biosecurity challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the most current cybersecurity concerns in relation to non-proliferation. The second track of the event was dedicated to networking. Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many young individuals isolated and detached from ongoing activities and has severely limited academic exchanges and training opportunities, the goal of the second track was to provide a framework for young people to meet, exchange ideas and promote their work.

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The Impact of COVID-19 and other Bio-Security Challenges

The first topic was addressed by Dr. Filippa Lentzos, Senior Research Fellow at the King’s College London. As pointed by Federica Dall’Arche, Researcher at IAI and moderator of the panel, the topic was particularly timely due to recent discussions on the origin of the virus. In order to reach an assessment of the health and societal impacts caused by COVID-19, Dr. Lentzos walked the participants through an accurate and anguished timeline of the pandemic stressing, in particular, the evolution of the Chinese government’s narrative on the spread of the virus, the role of the World Health Organization and the progressive recognition of the modalities of human-to-human transmission. As the pandemic escalated, however, many questions remain unanswered, according to Dr. Lentzos. The direct impact of the virus on health is still poorly understood and the extent of the indirect and long-term consequences will only fully emerge with time. The enormous socioeconomic effects of the virus, however, are already clear. Dr. Lentzos noted how the virus led to the disappearance of 225 million full-time jobs around the world and has exacerbated long-standing economic, racial and gender divides. Women, in particular, are paying the highest price, comprising 70% of global health and social care personnel. In addition to the consequently increased exposure to risk, women are also victims of what UN Women has called “the shadow pandemic,” i.e. a worrying increase in gender-based violence and domestic violence.
The effects of the pandemic still remain at least partially unknown, and this is even more true for its origin. As essential as it is to reconstruct a clear picture of what happened to reduce the risk of the introduction of new viruses to the human population, we still know little about the time, place and causes that led to the break out of COVID-19. “What should have been a routine science question,” Dr. Lentzos argued, “has instead become extremely politically charged.” In early April 2021, a WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 released a study listing four different possibilities on the origins of the outbreak of the pandemic. The first hypothesis listed is that the virus jumped from an animal directly to a human; the second, that the virus jumped from an animal to an intermediate host and then to a human; the third hypothesis is that the virus was imported to China via frozen food; the last hypothesis is that it spread because of a lab leak. While, according to the report, the second theory seems to be the most likely, the joint nature of the report raises significant doubts on its mandate and independence. The lack of adequately grounded evidence to favour one hypothesis over another is also a cause of particular concern, according to Dr. Lentzos. Yet, understanding the origin of COVID-19 would be essential to strategise on how to prepare for future pandemics. Dr. Lentzos concluded her remarks noting that biological threats are not limited to the current pandemic. Among other risks, she included: the potential accidents in biosafety laboratories, noting that many laboratories are currently under-monitored and under-regulated; deliberate biothreats caused by a growing technical capacity to modify pathogen and transfer them to the human body; and biological information warfare possibly targeting specific individuals or groups. Remarkably, the effects of biological information warfare are substantially indifferent from those of real, internationally prohibited biological warfare. This makes disarmament efforts particularly difficult.

Cyber Security and Implications for Non-Proliferation

The relevance of cyber security, as reminded by Mara Zarka, Project/Events Manager and Research Associate at the VCDNP and moderator of the second panel, has recently been brought into the spotlight because of the alleged cyberattack to the Natanz nuclear plant in Iran. Although cybersecurity has been on the policymaking eye for over a decade, these events show that the answers we have come up with still remain largely unsatisfactory. According to Dr. Alexi Drew, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Policy Institute at King’s College London, “most of the cyber issues that we see in international security arise out of a lingering series of misperceptions about what cyber security actually is, and who does it.” The actors involved are indeed changing rapidly with drastic consequences within the arms control arena. What was traditionally negotiated between States and within international institutions, is now addressed in far more complex negations because of the growing role of the so-called cyber emerging technologies. As a consequence, continued Dr. Drew, today private industries are the new predominant group of actors shaping the cybersecurity field, with a variable role left to the States. Remarkably, both private actors and States are increasingly aware of the new balance of power and of who can really set the standards. Cutting-edge technology is no longer directed solely by States’ interests, with enormous consequences on international governance dynamics. In fact, according to Dr. Drew, while technology might seem neutral and apolitical, it is the result of ethical and political choices. The kind of decisions now happening are about the importance of privacy in next generation technologies and algorithms, or about how domestic and international standards should be set. And these standards are increasingly set by private actors. Another crucial and often underestimated aspect of cyber security has to do with supply chains that contribute to creating broader attack surfaces, linking private and public digital infrastructures. However, as Dr. Drew explained, not everything that takes place in the cyber space can or should be considered as a form of warfare. In the large majority of cases, it is about cyber espionage, never intended to cause physical damage. This difference is widespread and yet difficult to explain, since it is incidents such as the one that happened at the Natanz nuclear plant – actually intended to cause physical damage – that make the headlines. The consequent general failure in grasping these nuances between espionage and attacks remains one of the main barriers to effective policymaking on cybersecurity. The key of the instability risk that should be addressed by cybersecurity is indeed the possibility of escalation due to lack of knowledge, resulting from a deliberate policy on the side of both States and institutions involved in a cyber event. For instance, NATO members have never defined the standard beyond which a cyber incident can be considered a full-fledged attack, thus expanding the deterrent potential. However, this makes it hard to establish where the line is and represents a critical risk of escalation or “splash effect.” Dr. Drew concluded her remarks noting that cyber capabilities are rapidly proliferating, both in terms of defence and attack capabilities.

Networking session

During this session, participants were divided in groups and provided with ice-breaking questions. The discussion in the different groups covered both the main pressing challenges to non-proliferation and disarmament as well as ways in which the EUNPDC and its members could do to better engage the next generation and young women in the field.

READ TAKEAWAYS FROM THE NETWORKING SESSION

Non-Proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament: Changes in the Field and Career Tracks

The Initiative encourages young women and the next generation to enter the non‑proliferation, arms control, and disarmament field, especially at a time in which the global pandemic has isolated many young people who may find themselves lacking resources and assistance.

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The fields of arms control, non-proliferation and security have been dominated by men. Though improvements have been made over the last decade, diversity is still lacking in terms of gender, color, and age. This observation is the driving force behind the Young Women and Next Generation Initiative (YWNGI) launched on 10 February 2021 by the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and the International Affairs Institute (IAI) in Rome, Italy, in the framework of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium. The Initiative encourages young women and the next generation to enter the non‑proliferation, arms control, and disarmament field, especially at a time in which the global pandemic has isolated many young people who may find themselves lacking resources and assistance. In this spirit, the launch event featured a spectacular panel of speakers from different backgrounds including Angela Kane, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ambassador Kjersti Andersen of Norway, Dr. Kim Baines, a scientist at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Dr. Heather Williams from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. IAI’s Researcher Federica Dall’Arche moderated the event and VCDNP Executive Director Elena Sokova offered welcoming remarks. The event attracted over 350 attendees highlighting the appetite to learn more and engage in the field.
L-R: Federica Dall’Arche (IAI), Dr. Kim Baines: (IAEA), Elena Sokova (VCDNP), Dr. Heather Williams (MIT), Ambassador Kjersti Andersen (Norway), Angela Kane (VCDNP).
The speakers addressed how the non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament field has changed over the years and provided insights into their own experiences in the field as well as offered recommendations for the next generation. Coming from diverse backgrounds, the speakers drew on experiences in the UN, government, natural sciences, and academia, emphasizing the diversity of the field itself and highlighting that there are many different pathways to enter the non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament area. In her opening remarks, Angela Kane stressed that to make a difference in the field it is not necessary to have a background specifically on arms control and non-proliferation and encouraged the next generation to think of the field with a wider lens focused on international policy and security. In reflecting on how the field has changed over the years, speakers noted that the representation of women has seen an improvement, with many panellists noting that at the start of their careers it was not rare to be the only women in a room full of men. Despite the improvement, however, Ambassador Andersen highlighted that “once you have gender parity within an organization you need to keep working on it because it is never achieved once and for all.” Dr. Baines also personally expressed excitement on “the paradigm shift that has been occurring over the last five years to be inclusive of women in technical and political disciplines.” This shift is also supported by the IAEA’s newly established Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme. Panellists also offered insights and recommendations to early- to mid-career individuals. There was consensus among the panellists on the need to accept challenges, to reach out to colleagues and other experts, to build a network, and follow one’s passion. Caution was expressed in terms of networking though, noting that one needs to be conscientious of others time, and though many in the field are happy to help, such networking effort must be done with a purpose or question in mind. In this regard Dr. Heather Williams stressed the importance of being someone that other people want to work and network with, as the arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament field is a community and most people know each other and collaborate with one another. Many participants were keen to learn of opportunities and recommendations for what they could actively be doing during the pandemic and beyond, especially as the implications of COVID-19 on the job market remain to be seen. Panellists provided plenty of ideas, including the importance of writing and publishing as it shows willingness to take intellectual risks. Speakers also stressed the need to invest in one’s skills, such as presentation skills, languages and intellectual curiosity in other fields of study. One way to expand one’s knowledge is through courses, traineeships, internships and mentorships, such as those offered by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), King’s College London, Women in Nuclear, country embassies and permanent missions, and international organisations. The event ended with an anecdote shared by Angela Kane emphasizing the importance of women needing to support one another in a still largely male dominated field. One way to do this is by promoting and establishing an advocacy network or group of like-minded individuals to make a statement that could lead to change. More events like this one will be organized and the VCDNP and IAI look forward to connecting and making use of the virtual format with which we are now familiar. To learn more about VCDNP and IAI’s initiative and mentorship programme or email mzarka@middlebury.edu or f.dallarche@iai.it.