Nuclear weapons proliferation and disarmament continue to be two of the greatest security challenges of our time. The history of these weapons use in the Pacific Islands region remains a very recent memory.What is being done to address this perpetual security threat? The Conference on Disarmament (CD) was established in 1979 as the international community’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. The CD and its predecessors have negotiated a number of major multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements, including the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. However, in recent years, the CD has been unable to make progress against its own schedule as a great debate over what to prioritize – counter-proliferation or disarmament – has divided its 65 members. This has led to new efforts to revitalize the CD so that it can move forward with its disarmament agenda. Unfortunately, the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are not CD members and thus not directly represented within these debates. Nevertheless, the PICs retain important national security interests in the outcome of the CD proceedings.

Human security in the Pacific Islands is clearly tied to the mitigation of global high-end security threats, including those posed by emerging Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Robotics, and Information and Communications (NBRIC) technologies and more traditional Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) weapons. For this reason, it is important for PICs to possess the diplomatic capacity required to assess whether developments within the CD advance or impede their national security interests and intervene in international discourse on counter-proliferation and disarmament issues when necessary. We here at the Pacific Islands Society (PacSoc) recognize that young experts in foreign policy play a key role in PIC engagement on counter-proliferation and disarmament issues. That’s why we’ve partnered with the Federation of American Scientists to launch the “Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament Project”– to provide these young experts in foreign policy with an international forum to voice their ideas.

Our young leaders have been asked to draft a hypothetical statement from their country to the Conference on Disarmament that advances their country’s national security interests against the CD schedule. The Federation for American Scientists will then post these statements on the FAS Blog. At the conclusion of the project, the statements will be bound and the full collection will be delivered to the Conference on Disarmament.