Intensive Policy Course

Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund, delivering the keynote address. Click to watch the video.

From 16 to 20 July, over 450 people from 91 countries participated in the Intensive Policy Course entitled “Multilateral Verification, Collective Security: The Contribution of the CTBT”. Nearly 100 participants – which included diplomats, station operators, academics, and members of civil society – were present in Vienna, while over 350 more viewed the lectures online and engaged in the course using the Capacity Development Initiative (CDI) e-learning platform. The week-long event was made possible through generous financial support provided by the government of Norway.

Course participants during the opening session of the course.
All lectures from the course are available to download for free from the CTBTO iTunes U page. Click the icon above to subscribe.

In addressing the merits of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the potential for realizing its entry into force, Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, stated in his keynote speech that “The case has never been stronger for this Treaty”. Throughout the week, course participants were given the opportunity to explore issues ranging from the history of the negotiations leading up to the CTBT and the development of its robust verification regime, to the current status of the Treaty and next steps toward the Treaty’s entry into force and universalization.


The Intensive Policy Course is a key element of the Capacity Development Initiative, which was launched by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) with the objective of training and educating the next generation of CTBT experts. The Intensive Policy Course is part of the 2012 CDI lecture series, which will also feature an Advanced Science Course from 12 to 23 November 2012.

To come to the very heart of international negotiations for that matter, especially nuclear negotiations it gives you a completely different perspective.Yogesh Joshi, Indian Pugwash Society, India

The Intensive Policy Course at a glance

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth's welcoming message to the course participants. Click to watch the video.

Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth opened the course by highlighting the objectives of the Capacity Development Initiative in enhancing the on-going efforts to reach out to and educate new partners in a worldwide mission to end nuclear weapons testing.

“You can become a partner in a mission outlawing nuclear explosions…You can become a partner in a mission mitigating disasters, be it natural or man-made… You can become a partner in an educational mission to share all the benefits our organization is giving to you”.CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth

The course began by offering a multi-dimensional perspective on CTBT-related issues in high-level political discussions and welcoming message from The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Norwegian Mission’s Chargé d’ Affaires Astrid Versto, and a keynote address (video) from the President of the Ploughshares Fund, Joseph Cirincione. Finally, a screening of the film "In My Lifetime" challenged participants to think critically about nuclear weapons through powerful images, interviews and narratives. The director of the film, Robert Frye, added his commentary via videoconference, and underscored the importance of having a vision of “what is possible in the future.”

Jean du Preez, Chief of External Relations and International Cooperation.
“I believe we have the moral duty to prevent what has happened in the past, and to a certain extent that is what these courses are about, especially when we look at the next generation”. Jean du Preez, CTBTO, Chief External Relations and International Cooperation
Panel on the Effective Verification of the CTBT.

Over the next few days, participants heard first-hand from top experts, civil society leaders, and scientists discussing the collection and analysis of monitoring data. One of the highlights of the course was an panel of high-level experts discussing the “Effective Verification of the CTBT”, which included Dr Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, Andreas Persbo, Executive Director, VERTIC, Dr Ellen Williams, Chair, Committee on Reviewing and Updating Technical Issues Related to the CTBT, National Academy of the Sciences, and Dr Pierce Corden, Visiting Scholar, Center for Science Technology and Security Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

This is the fourth time that I take a course at the CTBTO and every time I find something interesting, something new.Carlos Abelardo Vicioso Solano, Dominican Republic

Simulation Exercise on a CTBTO Executive Council

Simulation exercise on the Executive Council. The representative of Jamaica signals his wish to speak by raising his country placard.

The course lectures and activities all led up to the interactive feature of the course on Friday: a simulation of a future deliberation on a request for an on-site inspection (OSI). During the Executive Council Simulation, participants played the roles of representatives from the 51 States on the Council. This simulation was held to mimic the deliberations that would be necessary, once the Treaty enters into force, to approve or deny a CTBT State Party request for an on-site inspection (OSI), the final verification measure to bring clarity to a purported Treaty violation.

This course gives me a great number of new ideas and new information about the implementation of the CTBT, how has it influenced international relations, deeper reasons and influences within the international relations system.Polina Sinovets, Odessa National University, Ukraine

Peace and Security through Multilateral Verification

Throughout the week, one of the common themes that emerged was the rapid improvement of the International Monitoring System (IMS). As a direct consequence of those improvements, many lecturers noted the way in which technology has played a greater role in helping to support the Treaty and its position in the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Participants were also able see first-hand the Treaty’s verification technologies by touring the IMS rooftop radionuclide test station and International Data Centre Operations Centre. Through the course lectures and various interactive experiences, participants were able to explore the impact of the CTBT on international peace and security and relevance of its verification regime system in multilateral arms control.

“Verification has to do three things: first, it has to set up a verification gauntlet, a series of hurdles…the second is to deter cheating by making a potential violator sufficiently unsure of escaping detection, and the third is to build confidence in the Treaty… that it provides security for all parties and thereby to create an incentive for everyone to join”.Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy