Born in Japan, Himayu Shiotani (MAIPS ’11) spent most of his youth in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in India. During those years he often travelled to Kashmir to visit family, where he “witnessed day-to-day activities hampered by growing insecurity posed by the availability and use of weapons and explosives.” Those memories stuck with him and as he grew older he became increasingly curious about how weapons impact individual and collective decision-making processes.
His curiosity led him to pursue a career exploring those issues and he was drawn to MIIS because of its excellent reputation in the field of disarmament, nonproliferation, and arms control. “I had the pleasure of working closely with Dr.Ed Laurance on small arms and light weapons control issues, and conducting research on the nuclear weapons control regime under the guidance of Dr. Bill Potter,” says Himayu of his studies. Those experiences, along with an International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) placement at the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in New York, have continued to contribute positively to his work.
Since the beginning of 2013, Himayu has travelled to over ten countries, including Somalia, South Sudan, Kosovo, and Nepal, conducting field missions with local and national authorities. As project manager for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, he manages a project to develop a technical assistance tool to enhance the practical application of the International Small Arms Control Standards and to support the states, UN, and civil society in measuring, prioritizing, and evaluating their efforts to implement their commitments.
“In this work I have learned to appreciate every single input and feedback from the people I work with and to handle matters with extreme care,” he shares, and emphasizes how important it is to “remember why we are doing what we do, however small that contribution may be to the bigger picture.” At moments of doubt he says it is good to keep in mind the old Japanese proverb: “Even dust, if piled, can become a mountain.”