Pace University Faculty and Students Work for Nuclear Disarmament at United Nations

“In the nuclear age, with its uncontrollable proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the inability to reconcile differences peacefully poses a very grave threat to human survival. … Despite all of the hesitation and some inadequacies and imperfections, the record is abundantly clear that legal instruments … can be drafted, negotiated, accepted, verified and enforced; if there is the will, there is a way. … Disarmament is expensive but a constantly escalating arms race is much more expensive and can be fatal.”

Benjamin B. Ferencz, prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
and former Pace University adjunct professor of international law.

Dr. Emily Welty, director of peace and justice studies at Pace University New York City and vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs addressed the 2015 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations

Dr. Emily Welty, director of peace and justice studies at Pace University New York City and vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs addressed the 2015 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations

Pace University New York City students and faculty have been working hard for a nuclear weapons free world at the United Nations for the past month, as member states review the implementation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Kyla Korvne ’15 and Caitlin Boley ’16 both participated in a youth delegation to the conference, organized by the non-profit Ban All Nukes Generation (BANg), monitoring the conference as it met in the UN General Assembly Room and other august locations.

“I firmly believe that nuclear weapons are the number one threat to global and human security today,” said Caitlin, a political science and philosophy and religious studies double major, who has participated in Pace’s award-winning Model UN program.

“Being on the youth delegation was a particularly empowering experience. I have been passionate about this issue since taking the ‘Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control’ class at Pace in fall 2014. Also, the theories that have been introduced to me through Pace’s Peace and Justice Studies program really helped me to contextualize the arguments both for and against nuclear weapons.”

Kyla, an honors political science major and peace and justice studies minor, agreed, saying, “It was a privilege to be a young person involved in a cause that my generation tends to ignore.” Kyla has won several awards for her excellent diplomatic skills in Model UN conferences in Washington DC, Geneva and Oslo.

“A major part of engaging with institutions like the United Nations is knowing how to interpret diplomatic rhetoric, read between the lines and ask the right questions. The courses I have taken at Pace, my relationships with my professors and my participation in Model UN certainly all contributed to my ability to engage with the NPT.”

To read a blog post reflecting on her BANg experience, click here.

“Kyla and Caitlin showed strong interests in the issue, and they demonstrated both knowledge from the courses and eagerness to learn more,” said Anna Ikeda of BANg and Soka Gakkai International’s (SGI) United Nations Liaison Office. “I think they exemplified how Pace University values not only academic excellence but also application of knowledge and skills to making a change in society.”

Dr. Emily Welty, director of Pace NYC’s peace and justice studies program, delivered a statement at the UN on behalf of religious communities in her capacity as Vice-Moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs.

“The continued existence of nuclear weapons has forced humankind to live in the shadow of apocalyptic destruction,” said Dr. Welty, who monitored the negotiations closely, met with numerous countries’ delegations to make sure they were aware of interfaith and ecumenical perspectives on nuclear disarmament and generated social media content.

“Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by our respective faith traditions—the right of people to live in security and dignity; the commands of conscience and justice; the duty to protect the vulnerable and to exercise the stewardship that will safeguard the planet for future generations.”

Dr. Welty and Dr. Matthew Bolton, assistant professor of political science and Model UN advisor, were later featured on a panel on “general and complete disarmament” hosted by the Costa Rican mission.

“Pace University faculty have been very constructively engaged in UN disarmament and arms control processes, particularly through Dr. Emily Welty and Dr. Matthew Bolton’s participation in both intergovernmental meetings and civil society campaigns and initiatives,” said Ray Acheson, head of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s Reaching Critical Will project. “They have actively contributed to monitoring and analyzing negotiations and discussions on a variety of disarmament issues.”

During the conference, Dr. Bolton served as an advisor to the nonprofit Article 36, a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), monitoring conference proceedings and writing for NPT News in Review and social media content. He was featured on a panel hosted by the Japanese and Mexican missions on “disarmament education” in which he spoke about Pace’s emerging role as a hub for policy-relevant research, advice and teaching on disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control. He highlighted Pace’s award-winning Model UN program and his Fall 2014 undergraduate class on ‘Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control.’

“Pace is one of a small number of academic institutions – anywhere in the world – that takes disarmament education seriously. Indeed, it is a leader in the field, teaching the theory and practice of disarmament in a way that is both meaningful for students and beneficial to society,” said Tim Wright of ICAN. “More institutions should follow its example — for unless debates on disarmament are had beyond the walls of the UN, and among large numbers of people with a passion for peace and justice, we are all doomed.”

Just before the beginning of the NPT Review Conference, April 24-26, Pace students and faculty helped organize the International Peace & Planet Conference for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World, attracted 600 leading activists, scholars and diplomats from more than a dozen countries, including survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb attacks and Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Pace, along with the Cooper Union and Hunter College, hosted several of the conference workshops.

“We were, and remain, extremely grateful for Pace’s co-sponsorship, which made it possible for us to hold our workshops, from envisioning peace systems and alternatives to U.S. foreign and military policies to building more issue-integrated peace and justice movements and preventing new wars,” said Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee, an organizer of the event. “We were also grateful for the participation of Pace Peace Studies students as volunteers and participants in our international rally on April 26.”

The following weekend, Pace hosted an all-day strategy meeting of Abolition 2000, a network of thousands of nonprofit organizations, both national and international, working on nuclear issues. Participants heard from luminaries like New Zealand Member of Parliament Phil Goff and Ambassador Yasuyoshi Komizo, Secretary-General of the Mayors for Peace; but many reported that they were most captivated by the opening speech from Elena Marmo ’15, head of Pace NYC’s Student Peace Alliance and a Model UN head delegate.

“I have spent the past four years of my time here at Pace engaging with faculty who call for civic engagement and with students passionate about social change,” said Elena, an honors political science major and peace and justice studies minor who at graduation this May received Pace’s highest Trustee’s Award, alongside awards for academic excellence in political science and peace and justice studies.

“Providing courses in nonviolence theory and practice, conflict  resolution, humanitarian assistance, development, and peace theory, Pace aids students with a desire to change the world and equips them with the skills to do so.”

Located only two express subway stops from the iconic United Nations complex on the East River, Pace University’s scholars actively engage with global policymaking debates. The strong representation of Pace at the NPT is indicative of the university’s broader engagement with the UN. In the last few years, students and faculty have worked closely, particularly with civil society, in the Commission on the Status of Women, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN General Assembly First Committee, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and Arms Trade Treaty.

“Pace faculty and students have made a significant contribution to international work on disarmament and, in particular, the growing movement to frame disarmament as humanitarian action,” said Thomas Nash, director of Article 36.

“The analysis, facilitation and advocacy work of Matthew Bolton and Emily Welty, as well as the work of his students, has bolstered the international civil society campaigns to ban nuclear weapons and killer robots as well as the struggle against gender discrimination in disarmament work. “

For example, last fall, Pace hosted the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum, which featured Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams as well as many other notable speakers from the media, diplomacy, academia and non-profit sector who are working on the intersections between gender and arms.

“The value of both formal and informal advocacy and academic engagement has been proven repeatedly by both Pace University faculty and students,” Susi Snyder of PAX, a Dutch non-profit working on peace, disarmament and security issues that will host a Wilson Center-funded Pace intern this summer.

“The academic perspective has added value to discussions not limited to humanitarian action, international law, relations amongst nation-states and effective communications. Insightful analyses have provided added impetus and broadened advocates arguments towards humanitarian disarmament efforts.”

Pace University has a 65-year history of excellence in regional, national and international Model United Nations conferences and encourages its students to develop the skills and capacities needed to thrive as global citizens. Drawing students from around the world, Pace has numerous academic programs related to international affairs, including political science, peace and justice studies, women’s and gender studies, global Asia studies, international management, Latin American studies, modern languages and cultures, and environmental studies.

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About Matthew Bolton

I am assistant professor of Political Science at Pace University and author of Foreign Aid and Landmine Clearance.
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