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The United Nations Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament

The 2019 UN Disarmament fellows (UN Photo)


Pursuant to the established practice, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs has initiated the 2020 United Nations Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament by a note verbale, as follows:

Each nomination dossier consists of a (i) Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament Nomination Form and (ii) a Letter of Commitment for United Nations Disarmament Fellows (kindly use the Checklist for completion of nomination dossier ).

More information is contained in the Guidelines for the awarding of United Nations Disarmament Fellowships in 2020 .

The Covid-19 pandemic had a direct impact on the viability and implementation of the 2020 Programme. In particular, a thorough analysis of the status, expected developments, and possible options that could reasonably substitute for formal in-person study visits without compromising the programme’s quality, objectives and comprehensive character was made by the Office for Disarmament Affairs in cooperation with all relevant partners. Based on the conclusion that the lack of clarity, the risks associated with moving ahead with the organization of the 2020 Programme in the prevailing circumstances, as well as the limitations of available e-learning tools, render impossible the holding of a reasonably meaningful United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme that meets the objectives and expected results established by the First Special Session of the General Assembly on Disarmament (SSOD-1), the 2020 Programme was cancelled. The 2020 selection of fellows will be considered as pre-selected for the 2021 Programme.


The United Nations Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament was launched by the General Assembly at its first special session devoted to disarmament in 1978.

The Programme aims at the training and specialization of national officials in more Member States, particularly in the developing countries, and to enable them to participate more effectively in international deliberating and negotiating fora.

Implemented by the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the Programme has trained some 1033 public officials from 170 States, a large number of whom are now in positions of responsibility in the field of disarmament within their own Governments. Originally conducted for a six-month period, the Programme was reduced after 1988 to a ten-to-twelve week duration due to budgetary restrictions. Some 25 fellowships are awarded every year.

Participants in the United Nations Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament are selected among candidates nominated by the Member States of the United Nations (one nomination per Member State per year). The selection of candidates is done on the basis of a number of criteria, in particular, the greater needs of developing countries in terms of training their young diplomats in the field of disarmament and security, the professional background and experience and anticipated future responsibilities of the candidates, as well as the overall geographical and gender balance.

The programme of studies of the Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament is usually structured in three segments:
  1. The first segment of the Programme is carried out in Geneva and is aimed primarily at exposing the Fellows to multilateral negotiations and discussions on disarmament undertaken by the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and under different disarmament treaty regimes. The segment includes a cycle of lectures and presentations by senior representatives of States members of the Conference on Disarmament, practical exercises, and attendance in meetings of the CD or in other intergovernmental fora on disarmament, such as meetings of disarmament treaties that take place in Geneva.
  2. The second segment of the Programme comprises study visits in The Hague and Vienna to intergovernmental organizations of relevance in the field of disarmament, as well as to Member States, at their invitation. Ever since the establishment of the Programme in 1978, a number of Member States of the United Nations extended invitations and hosted study visits for the Fellows, namely: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, China, Finland, France, the former German Democratic Republic, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Roumania, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, and the United States of America. In 2019, Brazil, Germany, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea and Switzerland, as well as the European Union hosted study visits for the Fellows. These study visits have provided the Fellows with an invaluable opportunity to get more closely acquainted with the national policies and work in the field of arms limitation and disarmament of the respective Governments.
  3. The third segment of the Programme is held at United Nations Headquarters in New York and consists of another cycle of practical exercises and lectures by members of delegations to the First Committee, United Nations officials, and representatives of other international and non-governmental organizations and academia, and regular attendance in meetings of First Committee.

In helping to develop capability and greater expertise in disarmament and a better understanding of the concerns of the international community in the field of disarmament and international security, the United Nations Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament makes a concrete contribution to the process of deliberations and negotiations on disarmament. Indeed, the Programme has enabled former Fellows to participate more effectively in regional and global efforts in the field of disarmament and, by creating an informal network spanning the various regions of the world, to work cooperatively and constructively in the pursuance of disarmament and arms limitation goals.

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