Call for participation – EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Workshop 2023

On 4 December 2023, the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), on behalf of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium, will organize the annual EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Workshop. Young […]

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On 4 December 2023, the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), on behalf of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium, will organize the annual EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Workshop. Young students and professionals, selected through a competitive process, will discuss challenging issues in the arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament field and present fresh ideas and views on how to address them. Presentations will be followed by comments from other participants and an open debate. Applicants must submit their candidacy by 15 June 2023. For details and applications: eunpdc(at) [embeddoc url="" download="all" viewer="google"]

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Workshop 2022

On 14 November 2022, the IAI, as a member of the EUNPD Consortium, organised the EU Next Generation Nonproliferation and Disarmament Workshop. The annual event, in its fifth edition, was […]

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On 14 November 2022, the IAI, as a member of the EUNPD Consortium, organised the EU Next Generation Nonproliferation and Disarmament Workshop. The annual event, in its fifth edition, was attended by young academics in the field of non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, selected through a call for papers. During the event, participants presented their ideas on how to address the main challenges in this field. In particular, the following topics were addressed this year:
  • Russian Disinformation Practices at the OPCW
  • Which Actors Have Been Involved in Cyberspace during the War in Ukraine
  • Disinformation and Biological Weapons
  • Effective Arms Control for the Lethal Autonomous Weapons
  • Proliferation Concerns of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)
  • Militarization of Outer Space
  • The hypersonic missile race's implications for nuclear deterrence
  • Emerging Arms Race in Southern Asia
  • Sanctions implementation on North Korea
  • WMD Threats in the Middle East
The presentations were followed by questions and comments from other participants, including EU representatives.
Brussels – Belgium,

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: For more information:  

2021 Next Generation Workshop

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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. […]

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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.


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.


2020 Next Generation Workshop

The EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Workshop was held virtually on 25 November 2020. The event was organized by the Isitituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), on behalf of the EU […]

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The EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Next Generation Workshop was held virtually on 25 November 2020. The event was organized by the Isitituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), on behalf of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium.

14 young professionals were selected among over 50 applications to discuss pressing issues of the Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament field and present fresh ideas and views on how to address the field’s main challenges. Specifically, this year, the Workshop cover the following topics:

  • The Future of Nuclear Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in an Era of Crumbling Treaties
  • Arms Trade Regulation and the Fight Against Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)
  • Regional Threats to Non-Proliferation and Arms Control
  •  The Impact of Emerging Technologies on International Security and Arms Control: From Cyber Attacks to Autonomous Weapons

Presentations were followed by comments from other participants, including EU officials.

The Workshop brought together over 100 participants from 26 different countries, contributing significantly to the advancement of fresh thinking and news ideas on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.

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2019 Next Generation Workshop

  Welcome Addresses Eran Nagan, Incoming Chair of Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), European Union External Action Service (EEAS) Federica Dall’Arche, Researcher, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome Emerging […]

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  Welcome Addresses Eran Nagan, Incoming Chair of Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), European Union External Action Service (EEAS) Federica Dall’Arche, Researcher, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome Emerging Technologies, including Cyber Security Chair: Ettore Greco, Executive Vice-President, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome Speakers: Alexi Drew, Postdoctoral Researcher, King’s College, London Johanna Polle, Researcher, Research Area Arms Control and Emerging Technologies, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) Federico Variola, PhD Candidate, School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA) at Fudan University, Shanghai Non-Proliferation and Arms Control in Asia Chair: Névine Schepers, Research Associate, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London Speakers: Maimuna Ashraf, Research Officer, Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad Kanica Rakhra, Consultant, Disarmament and International Security Affairs Division (D&ISA), Ministry of External Affairs of India, New Delhi Elizabeth Yeseul Woo, Developing Scholar, Hudson Institute, Washington D.C. Sayaka Shingu, Assistant Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Division, Disarmament Non-proliferation and Science, Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA), Tokyo Illicit Trade of Conventional Arms, including SALW Chair: Giovanna Maletta, Researcher, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Speakers: Liat Biron, CEO, Forum for Regional Thinking, Tel Aviv Maria Camello, Researcher, Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP), Bruxelles Martha Mariana Mendoza Basulto, International Relations Officer, Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Carribean (OPANAL), Mexico City Non-Proliferation and Arms Control in the Middle East Chair: Federica Dall’Arche, Researcher, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome Speakers: Maximilian Hoell, Policy Fellow and Project Manager, European Leadership Network, London Selim Can Sazak, Resident Fellow, Delma Institute, Abu Dhabi Concluding Remarks Sibylle Bauer, Chair, EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Consortium /Director of Studies, Armament and Disarmament (SIPRI) Georgios Kritikos, Deputy Head of Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Division, European External Action Service (EEAS)