The Future of Nonproliferation: Middle East and North Africa Regional Essay Competition

March 25, 2024


The Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC) at Sandia National Laboratories and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) strive to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by training the next generation of nonproliferation specialists and informing cooperative engagements and policies that strengthen international security. CMC and CNS are pleased to announce an essay competition aimed at fostering and leveraging technical and regional expertise to promote new thinking and inform technical and diplomatic solutions to regional problems.

Essay Topics

Please pick one of the following topics:

  1. What key domestic, regional, and international changes will the Middle East experience in the next 10-15 years, and how may these changes affect nonproliferation inside the region and more globally?
  2. What proposed measures could be adopted to create and sustain an effective nonproliferation regime and nonproliferation norms in the region? What avenues for science-diplomacy/scientist-to-scientist cooperation should be explored and may contribute to nonproliferation stability?
  3. How might new and emerging technologies impact security interests among states in the MENA region and their military? How will emerging technologies affect states’ military postures in the region? What impact will the emerging technology and any shifts in military posture in the MENA region have with external actors?

Guidance For The Essay

Essays will be reviewed anonymously based on the following rubrics: originality, intellectual rigor, relevance to the question answered, clarity of expression, and the impact of new ideas. All essays will receive feedback. Arguments supported by evidence, including case studies or empirical research will earn higher scores. Essays must include 2-3 practical ideas, solutions, or possible next steps to address the research question. Essays that incorporate practical solutions for regional cooperation will also earn higher scores.


Winners will be announced in early July 2024.

  1. The student and mid-career essay competitions offer paid trips to present their work at a conference in DC. CNS will also award cash prizes to the award-winning essays. A $500 cash prize will be awarded to the winning student essay and $1,000 will be awarded to the mid-career winner.
  2. In the case that multiple essays have been deemed noteworthy, selected finalists will also be offered a chance to publish their essays through CNS.

Upon selection, winning authors will be asked to make reasonable edits for publishing their essays. In addition to the recognition as winners and the cash prizes, competition winners will be identified to participate on panels at a planned symposium in DC alongside other distinguished experts and keynote speakers. Government officials will be invited to attend the symposium, and the ideas presented by the panelists aim to inform U.S. and regional governments thinking on issues in the MENA region. Essay winners may also be selected to participate in an online lecture series for CMC, or as speakers for other regional meetings to be determined at a later date.

Who Is Eligible To Participate?

The essay competition will feature two categories of authors who are seeking a platform to share their ongoing research and work:

  1. Emerging scholars from the MENA region – essays from undergraduate and graduate students from the MENA region and diaspora.  The student essay competition will be limited to 1,500 words.  To qualify for the student category, you must be a current undergraduate or graduate student.
  2. Early to Mid-career professionals with expertise in the MENA region. To qualify for the second category, you must be an early to mid-career professional with expertise in the MENA region. Essays will have a limit of 3,000 words.

The competition is free to enter. Contestants are limited to one entry. See below the terms and conditions of the competition.

SNL and CNS reserve the right to confirm eligibility requirements at any time. Failure to provide evidence of eligibility, or to provide false information, could lead to exclusion from the essay competition.

Participants must be available to travel to Washington D.C. to participate in a one-day symposium. Exceptions for virtual attendance will be made in the case of visa limitations.

How Can I Enter The Competition?

Essays can be submitted through this form by Friday, May 24, 23:59 EDT.

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