Senior Diplomat from Jamaica Visits CNS

November 14, 2018

From November 5-9, 2018 the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies was pleased to host Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards, director of the Bilateral Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica. Ms. Richards’s visit afforded Center staff and MIIS students valuable opportunities to learn more about the security and development priorities of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) [view seminar video], which is playing an increasingly important role in the disarmament domain. It also enabled Ms. Richards to receive briefings from CNS experts about how new “open-source” tools and technologies can empower smaller states in areas such as monitoring and verification, which was previously the sole preserve of the nuclear-weapon states.

Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards, director of the Bilateral Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica

Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards

Ms. Richards’s visit coincided with two meetings of Dr. William Potter’s simulation course on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). As the former deputy permanent representative of Jamaica to the United Nations, Ms. Richards represented her country at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. She provided valuable feedback to the students participating in the course regarding their portrayal of their respective delegations, and the potential for finding common ground in the class and in reality.

William Potter and Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards

William Potter and Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards

Ms. Richards also headed her national delegation at the second session of the Open-ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations in 2016, which laid the groundwork for the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). She spoke about this experience at a seminar on entitled, “Regional Perspectives on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: A View from the Caribbean,” providing a first-hand perspective on the importance of the TPNW to many smaller nations that have already foresworn nuclear weapons. She noted in her remarks that security, disarmament, and development are inextricably linked issues for many Caribbean countries, particularly as recognition of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has grown. She also explained that for states that belong to nuclear-weapon-free zones, the argument that nuclear weapons increase global security is unconvincing. In this respect, she observed, the TPNW and parties to it can help to diminish deterrence as a rationale for the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons.

During the question-and-answer session that followed her seminar, Ms. Richards dwelt upon the need to increase diversity in disarmament and nonproliferation. She observed that stereotypes that associate the pursuit of peace with femininity, weakness, and naivety are damaging because they prevent this critical objective from being taken seriously. This theme is one Ms. Richards discussed at length with CNS Research Associate Sarah Bidgood earlier in the week, when the two met to discuss the Center’s Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative. Ms. Richards serves as one of the advisors for this Initiative, which aims to encourage more college-aged women to pursue careers in nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament. During their meeting, Ms. Bidgood and Ms. Richards focused in particular on the importance of mentorship in sustaining and nurturing the interest of young women in these fields. To this end, they discussed the details of a mentorship program Ms. Bidgood plans to launch as part of this Initiative in the next few months.

In all, Ms. Richards’s visit stimulated lively discussion at the Center on a host of issues related to disarmament, nonproliferation, and arms control. While her professional responsibilities may no longer focus on this domain, Ms. Richards nevertheless provided important insights that both students and staff alike found valuable and thought-provoking.

Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards seminar

Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards seminar


Watch Seminar Video

Watch the video of Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards’s seminar

Photo Gallery

Shorna-Kay Richards slideshow

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