Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) recently concluded the 4th Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Awareness Workshop, co-organized with Qatar's National Committee for the Prohibition of Weapons (NCPW), and held on the Georgetown campus to raise awareness among university students about the dangers associated with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
Joining students from Georgetown at the workshop were students from Qatar University, College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, Qatar Community College, and from other Hamid bin Khalifa University partners in Education City. Participants were provided with information about the types of WMDs, the role of NCPW as a representative body of Qatar in the field of the global WMD disarmament movement, and briefed on existing opportunities for students to work with the NCPW.
The workshop was launched with a welcoming address given by Dr. Gerd Nonneman the dean of GU-Q, and Brigadier (Air) Hassan Saleh Al-Nesf, Deputy, Chairman of the NCPW.
Dr. Nonneman noted that: "Georgetown University has long been at the forefront of the study of international affairs and global security - subjects that are central among the broad range of topics covered in our curriculum. Hosting this student-focused workshop with the NCPW creates an environment for dialogue with experts about the different aspects of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons that could have major impact on Qatar, the region and the world at large. We look forward to working with NCPW to foster debate and to raise awareness about policy options to reduce proliferation and reliance on WMDs.”
Brigadier (Air) Hassan Saleh Al-Nesf said: "The workshop falls within the activities of the National Committee for the Prohibition of Weapons, related to raising awareness in the area of disarmament. This is based on the establishment of the Resolution of the Committee, and within its cooperation framework with the universities to raise risk awareness among students of such weapons. This reflects the transparency and policy of the State of Qatar regarding disarmament."
“The challenge for students is that the topic of WMDs can be overwhelming and abstract, with many thinking, ‘I can’t do anything about it, so why should I bother?’” said GU-Q Senior Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs Dr. Kai-Henrik Barth, who co-organized the workshop and gave an introduction on Nuclear Proliferation and International Security during the opening presentations.
“As educators, it is our job to teach students that this pressing issue isn’t going to take place thirty years in the future, it’s happening now, it’s an ongoing controversy, and their involvement and participation in the public debate is very welcome and necessary.”
Dr. Barth commented on how students benefit from the interaction with experts and practitioners in the field of prohibiting WMDs, saying: “The workshop highlights how these weapons shape the security context in many areas of the globe, and it emphasizes specific steps states take to reduce reliance on these destructive weapons. The workshop encourages students to think about concrete steps to eliminate WMD.”
Following several presentations from NCPW and GU-Q experts about the conventions related to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as the goals and achievements of the NCPW, the students split into three groups to discuss those topics further with the experts. A plenary discussion followed the discussions.
The event concluded with NCPW’s Brigadier (Air) Hassan Saleh Al-Nesf thanking the representatives of the participating universities and members of the NCPW for their contributions to the successful workshop. He was joined by Dean Nonneman in presenting certificates to participating students.
The first WMD workshop was held in March 2012 at GU-Q. The second and third workshop were held at Qatar University, with this fourth workshop returning to GU-Q. Plans are being explored to continue holding WMD awareness workshops on a regular basis on Georgetown’s Education City campus.