National Security, Dangerous chemicals, nuclear substances, International Organisation and Security, weapons
Edu type:
Course or training
The Hague
Bachelor (EQF 6), Doctorate/PhD (EQF 8), Master (EQF 7)
Start date:
Study Load:
44 hrs
5 days
More information


The challenges posed to international security by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons have recently reached levels of urgency not seen since the Cold War. There is an increasing demand for professionals in the field of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to tackle the challenges of today’s non-proliferation and disarmament agenda with a more integrated understanding of these issues. From 19 to 23 September, the Asser Institute in The Hague will host the thirteenth training programme on disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, co-organized with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).


During this intensive training programme, you will receive a comprehensive overview of non-proliferation and disarmament efforts regarding WMD. You will learn from renowned experts and practitioners and engage in active discussions about relevant topics and ongoing debates. The programme also provides you with the opportunity to build your professional network and connect with experts in the field, as well as with your fellow participants.


Please ensure to carefully read the Terms and Conditions before registering.


The registration fee includes lectures, study materials, study visits, water/tea/coffee and lunch during working days, one reception, and an opening dinner. It does not cover international travel costs, domestic travel to and from airports, accommodation, insurance, or other expenses.


All activities during the programme are conducted in English. Participants are therefore expected to have a good oral and written command of this language.


The proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) presents an incalculable risk to national, regional and global security, as well as human and environmental health. After years on the political sidelines, Weapons of Mass Destruction (biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) are again centre stage on the international security agenda. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of maintaining the prohibition norm against the use of biological and chemical weapons, and robust international mechanisms including arms control measures to prevent nuclear escalation during conflicts.


Nuclear weapons
The increased threat from nuclear weapons comes as nuclear arms control and non-proliferation regimes are disintegrating, nuclear-armed states are developing new weapons systems, and conflicts involving nuclear-armed states are erupting. Although the Cold War ended, the United States and Russia are still locked in a nuclear stand-off in which each side maintains hundreds of warheads ready to be launched at a moment’s notice.


Chemical weapons
Meanwhile, despite considerable success in curtailing chemical weapons proliferation and destroying stockpiles in the last decades, the increasing number of incidents in which chemical weapons have been used in recent years is a matter of grave concern. Questions on the possible erosion of the norm against the use of chemical weapons, how future use can be deterred, and how to strengthen the capacity of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to deal with these threats have come to the fore.


Biological weapons
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a grim reminder of the imperative of curtailing the spread and use of biological weapons. The pandemic was not the result of the intentional use of the COVID-19 virus for military purposes but it has illustrated the catastrophic health and economic impacts of the spread of a novel pathogen of a nature which could be used for military purposes, and the global cooperation and array of measures needed should a bioweapon of this kind ever be used.


Emerging technologies
Finally, the rapid development of emerging and potentially destabilizing technologies, such as drone technologies, hypersonic ballistic missiles, artificial intelligence-enabled weapon systems, present new challenges to the existing global non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control systems. In particular, such new technologies exacerbate the risks of misunderstanding, new arms races, and escalation through miscalculation. It is necessary to bring emerging technologies into the ongoing debates about arms control in order to mitigate the risks of technological innovation. 


How should we understand and deal with these new dynamics?
The annual training programme on disarmament and non-proliferation of WMD gives a comprehensive overview of the international legal and political regimes governing these weapons. It considers initiatives and progress on reducing risks associated with these weapons, reviews recent or current instances of WMD flashpoints and case studies of potential arms races, instability and escalation. Finally, it examines cutting-edge issues and developments that shape the future of our efforts to control weapons of mass destruction.


Participants will gain:

  • In-depth knowledge of the diplomatic, legal and technical aspects of disarmament and non-proliferation;
  • Insight into the work of key professionals in the area of WMD, seasoned with their personal experiences; and
  • Unique networking opportunities with speakers and participants from diverse backgrounds.


We have two types of scholarships available to fund participation in this unique training programme.


OPCW Civil Society Scholarships available
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) offers several competitive scholarships for civil society representatives (e.g., from non-governmental organisations, think tanks, research or academic institutions). The scholarships cover the tuition fee, international travel costs, basic medical insurance, and an allowance to cover accommodation and food expenses and are provided with funding support from the European Union.

  • More information on eligibility requirements
  • Apply of the OPCW Scholarship

All applications for the OPCW scholarship must be received by 4 July 2022.


Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs scholarships
The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has generously agreed to fund up to 5 scholarships. Candidates should be working in the field of (or related to) WMDs and they should be a national of and be working in at least one of the countries mentioned in the list of Low/Lower-Middle Income Economies of the World Bank.

The scholarships include tuition fee, international travel, accommodation, per diem allowance and medical insurance.

  • More information on eligibility requirements
  • Apply of the MFA Scholarship

All applications for the MFA scholarship must be received by 4 July 2022.


Thilo Marauhn

Marauhn is a researcher in the research strand 'Regulation in the public interest: Disruptive technologies in peace and security.' Since 2016 Thilo has been Head of the Research Group on International Law at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), Member of the Leibniz Association. PRIF is one of the leading peace research institutes in Europe. Since 2017 he has been President of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. Marauhn combines his endowed professorship in Arms Control Law with his work as Professor of Public Law and International Law at the Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen and at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt in Germany.


Thea Coventry

Thea Coventry also forms part of the ‘Regulation in the public interest: disruptive technologies in peace and security’ strand of research. Thea is completing her PhD (Leiden University) investigating the role of accidental and strategic textual ambiguity in the progressive development and codification of legal rules in the field of State criminal jurisdiction. Her research interests include international arms control law, maritime security, and transnational criminal law.


Key topics: 

Chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, biological weapons; arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament agreements; export controls and verification mechanisms; international law and diplomacy; geopolitical developments; and emerging technologies.


Target group: 

The training programme is designed for early- to mid-career professionals working for governments, for example, national export control bodies, national authorities for the implementation of WMD-related treaties and agreements and national nuclear agencies. Individuals working for non-governmental organisations, think tanks addressing WMD issues and research centres in related disciplines are also invited to apply. Newly arrived diplomats in The Hague are especially encouraged to sign up for the training programme.


Course aim: 

The WMD training programme offers participants the chance to discuss various aspects of the issue with experienced experts in an interactive and multi-disciplinary way. Participants will leave the programme with a greater understanding of disarmament and non-proliferation efforts and the international legal challenges faced by practitioners in the field.