Dr. William Potter, director of the Monterey Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), has pioneered the use of simulations as a tool for teaching students the intricacies of international arms control negotiations. Although many senior diplomats, including foreign ministers, have met with students in his classes at the Institute, this fall was the first time a former head of state participated in the course, and two ambassadors actually played themselves in a simulation of the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting.

Former Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva (see our story from 9/20/13) addressed student negotiators at the opening of the mock NPT PrepCom in September 2013, and Chilean Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna Alfredo Labbe and former U.S. Nonproliferation Ambassador Susan Burk joined Chilean and U.S. delegations in November for hours of intense negotiations related to nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The engagement of these experienced diplomats added tremendous realism to the simulation and provided students with unusual insights about negotiating style and techniques. Austrian Ambassador Alexander Kmentt also spent a week in October with the student negotiators and shared his country’s perspectives on a number of new disarmament initiatives under review in the class and in the “real world.” The simulation course is offered through the Institute's unique Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program.

Thanks in part to their unusual classroom experiences, many Monterey Institute simulation alumni have moved quickly from student negotiators to representatives of their countries in arms control negotiations in Geneva, Vienna, and New York. At the 2013 NPT PrepCom in Geneva, for example, over two dozen past and present Institute students and CNS staff and visiting fellows served as members of national and international organization delegations, including those of Burkina Faso, China, Chile, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Peru, Romania, the Russian Federation, and the United States.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir