Professor Denise Garcia led Dialogue on Disarmament Diplomacy, International Security, and Humanitarian Action


September 13, 2013

Students on the dialogue entitled “Disarmament Diplomacy, International Security, and Humanitarian Action” in Geneva traveled with Professor Garcia to the International Committee of the Red Cross, where they learned about International Humanitarian Law.  They met with the UN Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings, who gave a report on the use of drones and future potential uses of autonomous weapons systems.  Along this report, the group met campaigners from the “Stop Killer Robots” campaign, recently launched worldwide.  Among the activists, they also interacted with the Human Rights Watch and Reaching Critical Will.

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The group with United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research Director Theresa Hitchens and researcher John Borrie

Professor Garcia and her students also met the chiefs of Secretariats helping states to implement international treaties on weapons such as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, the Certain Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention secretariat.  They spent several days studying the mine and cluster munitions bans, and on those days, met some of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

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After meeting H.E. US Ambassador Laura Kennedy

They visited The Geneva Center for Security Policy, and interacted with ambassadors from the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, and the Holy See.  The group also traveled to the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law, where they met the Chair of International Humanitarian Law, Nils Melzer.  They had an opportunity to meet with Professor Garcia’s main institutional partners in Geneva, namely the Director and researchers of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.  They also spent two days visiting the Professor’s Alma Mater: the Graduate Institute of International Studies.  There, the group met several alumni from Northeastern who are now attending or already completed their degrees at the Institute.  The students also attended an international “open-ended working group” at the United Nations that is setting the stage for new talks on nuclear disarmament.  There, the group had conversations with members of the IAEA and the Chatham House Institute, among others.

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Attending the nuclear talks at the United Nations

Lastly,  Professor Garcia launched the NU UN Club over a dinner at the private club of the UN, with the presence of various alumni from Northeastern.  Several of the alumni were doing co-op nearby, some were attending the Institute, and others were already working in Geneva.  The dinner was also attended by Maureen Underhill, Northeastern’s Director of Finances for the Dialogues and our Office of International Study Abroad, and Kerry Brinkert, the chief of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty who is visiting campus this October.  The NU UN Club will serve as a hub not only for alumni in Geneva, but for the Dialogue classes visiting every year, and co-op students.  Professor Garcia’s former student, Will McDermott, who was selected as the first co-op student at the Anti-Mine Ban Treaty Secretariat, and subsequently attended the Institute, graciously accepted to be the President of the Club.  William McDermott now has a full time job with the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty.  Marie de Lutz, who attended Professor Garcia’s first Geneva Dialogue in 2007 and is now at the Institute, graciously agreed to serve as the Vice President for the NU UN Club.

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Hiking in the Alps with Kerry Brinkert and Maureen Underhill

In addition to Maureen Underhill’s visit from Northeastern, the group was also graced with the presence of Angela Loporto and Joanna Lazarek from our office of International Co-ops.  Northeastern will have at least three new co-ops in Geneva starting in the fall!  Three Northeastern alumni, M. Corral, A. Loporto, and D. Royster, and our graduate student, Mladen Mrdalj, were Professor Garcia’s co-leaders in this incredible experience.

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