Building Bridges Between Russia and the United States through Education and Training

March 4th, 2020

Education is a crucial element of the global disarmament process, and that is why it is important for the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) to support the next generation of leaders in this field through the UN’s internship programme. This is in line with the 2002 UN Study on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Education (A/57/124) which identified the objective to impart knowledge and skills to individuals to empower them to make their contribution, as national and world citizens, to the achievement of concrete disarmament and non-proliferation measures and the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament under effective international control.

One special programme that links disarmament education with sustained efforts at international cooperation is the Dual Degree Master’s program in Nonproliferation Studies, established in partnership between Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) and two leading Russian and US nonproliferation think tanks – the PIR Center and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

UNODA interns Yury Medvedev and Vladislav Chernavskikh.

The program gathers together inspired young people from Russia, the United States, and Europe to equip them with strong knowledge of historic and current trends in the disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control regime. It provides them with a unique opportunity to interact with international professionals and experts and learn a variety of perspectives on how to sustain this regime. The educational process is directed by Dr. Vladimir Orlov (PIR Center’s Founder and Executive Board member) and Dr. William Potter (CNS Director). Both experts lead uniquely designed courses, covering, among other things, the history of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and its Review Process, pressing regional non-proliferation issues, and past and present joint arms control efforts between Russia and the United States.

Yury Medvedev and Vladislav Chernavskikh, two graduate students in the Dual Degree program, are currently working at UNODA as interns, fulfilling their degree requirements.

“I feel very lucky to be an intern at UNODA”, says Yury, “I am already seriously considering a career in the international field. The Dual Degree program has brought me closer to achieving this goal. Learning from Dr. Orlov and Dr. Potter was a challenging, but exciting process, thanks to their efforts, I feel confident dealing with disarmament and nonproliferation issues during my internship. The Office for Disarmament Affairs is a great place to gain experience and learn what it’s like to work for an international organization.”

UNODA intern Yury Medvedev.

Yury  is part of the Science and Technology Unit at UNODA, while Vladislav contributes to the work of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch. The interns participate in the daily activities of the Office, assisting their supervisors with research, analysis, event organization, and a number of other projects.

“Here you meet experts dedicated to arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament, witness how the UN operates, and gain important professional insights through interaction with senior colleagues. I feel that I am being treated as a valuable part of the UNODA team; it is encouraging, and I am very grateful for that”, Yury adds.

UNODA intern Vladislav Chernavskikh.

“I feel like I am right at the center of all things nuclear weapons related”, Vladislav says, “For someone like me who is interested in building a career in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation this internship is an amazing opportunity to network and gain necessary professional experience. It was all made possible thanks to the kind support from James Martins CNS and PIR-Center”, he adds, “I believe that any aspiring professional who is interested in those issues should seriously consider applying to the Dual Degree programme.”


The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs strongly promotes inclusion of the younger generation in disarmament processes and encourages young talent to raise awareness and promote change for a more peaceful and secure world. The ‘Youth Champions for Disarmament’ initiative provides an opportunity for young people to receive training in general principles of disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control.

Learn more about the initiative and application process here.

Authors: Yury Medvedev and Vladislav Chernavskikh