ACONA – The Arms Control Negotiation Academy
The deterioration of arms control negotiation expertise in the Euro-Atlantic sphere is a burgeoning threat to international security. The emerging generation of policymakers, diplomats, and scholars not only in the US, Russia and the EU but also in other regions of the world are ill-equipped to confront the many challenges entangled into nuclear disarmament issues. Successful negotiations demand policymakers be well-informed of both the technical and political aspects of arms control agreements. However, a fading knowledge of Cold War arms control treaties and few opportunities to train the necessary negotiation skills make it difficult for the new generation of policymakers and scholars to confront new threats to established disarmament and arms control regimes.
The formal nuclear and conventional arms control architecture that underpinned international security and strategic stability for the past five decades is crumbling. Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option as the international arms control arena is rapidly expanding to include a greater diversity of actors and technologies. At this crucial time, the understanding of arms control history and negotiation practice is necessary now more than ever to lay the groundwork for a new modus operandi in international security negotiations.
In 2019, therefore, six organizations joined together to launch the Arms Control Negotiation Academy: the Negotiation Task Force at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program, the Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre, the Higher School of Economics, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and PRIF. In 2021, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs joined ACONA as affiliates. In March 2022, the ACONA consortium membership of the Russian Higher School of Economics and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations was suspended.
ACONA is designed to fill the void in the current arms control educational foundation by integrating arms control expertise with advanced negotiation skill acquisition. Combining expert lectures with immersive training exercises, the Academy will train emerging leaders in arms control, peace and conflict research, and international security. The academy will host three workshops within a period of 12 months for 16 ACONA-fellows per cohort. The fellowships start in July 2020 and the first workshop will take place in August 2020.The program will foster international cooperation and empower the next generation of arms control experts to take on the strategic negotiation challenges in the rapidly changing security landscape of the 21st century.