Institute alumna Elayne Whyte Gómez MAIPS ’93, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office in Geneva and lead negotiator of the recently approved United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, will be the featured speaker at the Institute’s Spring Commencement on May 19.
“There is nothing permanent in human history; everything is in constant transition,” Whyte noted during a campus visit last year. “The nuclear age will not be permanent and will also pass. But when and how will it be achieved?”
While the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (as it is often called) does not include either the existing nuclear weapons states or their closest allies, its negotiation represents a significant step toward the goal of a world without nuclear weapons—the first formal, binding international agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons. Whyte, a career diplomat, remains optimistic about the possibilities for progress ahead, saying “it is especially when we are navigating turbulent waters, that we have to walk with hope, and act with hope.”
The signing last July of the historic Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty followed months of consultations and two rounds of intense negotiations presided over by Whyte. Facing extraordinary time pressure and, at times, contentious debate, Ambassador Whyte facilitated the adoption of the landmark agreement by a vote of 122 nations in favor, one against, and one abstention.
After receiving her master’s degree in International Policy Studies from the Institute, Whyte joined the Costa Rican Foreign Service as a career diplomat in 1998 and rose to the position of vice minister at the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs two years later. Whyte was the first woman and the youngest person ever to serve in this role, which she held through two successive administrations from different parties.
The Middlebury Institute’s Spring Commencement ceremony will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 19 on the lawn in front of historic Colton Hall, 570 Pacific Street in Monterey. As always, the ceremony will open with a procession of flags representing each of the 31 nations represented in the graduating class of 286 students.