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Who is our Arms Proliferation expert?

At the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) we have 18 thematic clusters including Arms Proliferation. Dive in deeper with our expert, Mr Marc Finaud, and learn more about her upcoming executive course in Amman on ‘Building Arms Control Capacities in the Middle East and North Africa Region

Tell us about yourself:

Name: Marc Finaud

Education: Master’s Degrees in International Law and Political Science

Job Title: Senior Programme Advisor, Arms Proliferation Cluster Leader

Fun Fact: I am originally French with Polish and Lithuanian background on my mother’s side, and now also a Swiss citizen.

Contact information: m.finaud@gcsp.ch

GCSP: Why did you choose to enter this field?

After I graduated from high school in France, I spent a whole year as an exchange student in the United States, and this increased my interest in international issues. After my university studies, I joined the French Foreign Service for almost 40 years, and then the GCSP to share my experience with the new generation of international actors. My specific interest in arms control developed as I worked during the Cold War within the East-West Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) and later the global Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

GCSP: What is your role at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy?

I design, organise and deliver executive education courses related to arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament, including in a regional context such as Africa or the Middle East. Apart from teaching, I also research and publish in those fields and contribute to dialogue and discussion with Geneva-based stakeholders.

GCSP: Tell us more about the courses you run?

On a regular basis, I run courses to build capacities on effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which aims at ensuring responsible conventional arms trade and prevent illicit trafficking in weapons. I am also responsible for courses on arms control for officials from the Middle East and North Africa region. I contribute to other courses on issues such as diplomatic negotiations or reporting, media relations, etc.

GCSP: How do you see arms proliferation shaping the future?

Unfortunately, despite progress since the Cold War in adopting multilateral instruments to curb the arms race and protect civilians from the scourge of war, much remains to be done, due to a combination of factors (internal conflicts affected by external intervention, weak enforcement of international norms, power politics, pressure from the defence industry, etc.). In addition, new and potentially destabilizing technologies such as artificial intelligence or autonomous weapons create new challenges that will need to be addressed.

GCSP: What have you learnt from the participants in your courses?

Initially, I considered that my work mainly consisted in sharing my own knowledge and experience with the more junior participants. In fact I discovered that I also learned a lot from their own background and innovative ideas. This is why our methodologies rely so much on co-learning and the mutual interaction between academics, practitioners and participants.

GCSP: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

My preferred quote is the one by Mandela: “I never lose. I either win or learn.”

GCSP: What’s the next challenge for arms proliferation?

As mentioned before, new technological developments that may endanger existing international norms that protect civilians in conflict or create destabilizing incentives for powerful states to initiate first strikes because they feel immune from defence or retaliation.

GCSP: What’s coming up next in arms proliferation?

In the area of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, there are conflicting trends: on the one hand, a new treaty initiated by civil society and supported by a majority of states to prohibit nuclear weapons, and on the other hand modernization of nuclear arsenals coupled with lack of new negotiated reductions; also, on regional crises, hopeful potential with North Korea but risks for the future of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Those topics will be high on the agenda of the next Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2020.

GCSP: Why are you passionate about this subject? Why does it make a difference for you personally or professionally?

In this area of work and research, one can contribute to progress in awareness-raising among the public, of the global risks caused by uncontrolled arms proliferation. Most advances in the last two decades were initiated by civil society organisations and researchers who convinced governments to support their cause (e.g. to ban antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions, and now nuclear weapons, and to regulate conventional arms trade).