It has proved relatively easy in the NPT context to gain near consensus among NPT States for support of the general concept of disarmament and non-proliferation education. The more difficult but important task now is to translate that support in principle into meaningful action that promotes the NPT objectives and furthers its full and effective implementation.
Because of its recent origin, there is not yet a precedent for where the education issue belongs on the agenda for the NPT Review Conference. Although the topic tended to be discussed primarily with reference to the cluster of disarmament issues in the 2002, 2003, and 2004 Prep Coms, an argument can be made that disarmament and non-proliferation education is equally relevant to the issues of non-proliferation, safeguards, compliance, peaceful use of nuclear energy, export controls, nuclear weapon-free zones, and regional issues.
For example, one might seek support from the NPT States Parties at the 2005 Review conference for the following measures.
NPT States should be encouraged to allocate additional financial resources to develop, enhance, and support non-proliferation education activities, including the provision of fellowships to graduate students for advanced, multi-disciplinary training in non-proliferation. States should be encouraged to establish internship programs within relevant governmental agencies, and international organizations with responsibilities for non-proliferation should provide graduate students with on-the-job training. Relevant governmental agencies, in cooperation with NGOs, should be encouraged to develop and disseminate user-friendly non-proliferation educational materials to audiences at all educational levels.
NPT States should be encouraged to hold regional seminars in cooperation with the IAEA to facilitate the conclusion of and enhanced adherence to safeguards agreements and the additional protocol. The IAEA should be encouraged to develop more user-friendly and interactive on-line information materials, and to serve as the information clearinghouse on all issues associated with international safeguards.
NPT States should be encouraged to develop educational materials addressing the importance of compliance with all NPT provisions, as well as the consequences on proliferation. States should cooperate with academic and research institutes to organize seminars with a view to promoting full compliance with all NPT provisions.
The nuclear industry and academic institutes should be encouraged to partner with NPT States and relevant international organizations to identify, assess, and disseminate information about new approaches-both technical and political-for promoting peaceful nuclear energy that minimize its potential abuse for military purposes.
NPT States, in cooperation with regional and international organizations, should be encouraged to increase their support for training courses on non-proliferation export controls for governmental officials and law enforcement officers. Government agencies dealing with export controls should be encouraged to disseminate more public information about export control mechanisms and their contribution to non-proliferation. Academic institutes and non-governmental organizations should be encouraged to organize training courses and seminars with a view to facilitating the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
NPT States should be encouraged to cooperate with academic institutions to develop model university curricula on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. States should be encouraged to increase their support for the disarmament and non-proliferation activities of the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, UNIDIR, and other international organizations in pursuit of their implementation of the recommendations of the UN study.
NPT States and regional organizations such as the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) should be encouraged to disseminate more information to the general public on the contributions of NWFZs to disarmament, non-proliferation, and regional security. Academic institutes and NGOs should be encouraged to analyze the lessons learned from extant NWFZs with an eye to making recommendations about means to accelerate the entry into force of NWFZs already negotiated and the conclusion of additional NWFZs on the basis of agreements freely arrived at by States in the region.
Major strides have been taken in a relatively short period of time to regularize the consideration of disarmament and non-proliferation education at major fora such as the First Committee of the UN General Assembly and the NPT review process. Much more, however, needs to be done if the potential of the practical steps recommended by the UN Group of Experts is to be realized.
Among the obstacles that will have to be overcome are limited finances, bureaucratic inertia, competing priorities, and questionable political will on the part of many national governments. These constraints, however, are always present and should not be insurmountable given the compelling logic of the UN study's recommendations and as long as the natural constituencies for disarmament and non-proliferation education are mobilized.
More than anything, successful implementation of the steps called for by the UN study will require an active partnership among national governments, international organizations, educational institutions, and civil society. Hopefully, such an education-oriented coalition will find expression at the 2005 NPT Review Conference, which will be an opportunity to demonstrate that even diplomats are susceptible to learning about disarmament and non-proliferation.
Masako Toki is Non-Proliferation Education Program Associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies' Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). E-mail: email@example.com.
William Potter is Institute Professor at the Monterey Institute and Director of the CNS. His discussion paper in January 2000 for the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters served as the impetus for the UN study on disarmament and non-proliferation education. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.