Bridging Divides: Stanford Students Simulate Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to Tackle Global Nuclear Security

Students from of POLISCI114S: International Security in a Changing World embrace diplomatic roles to tackle global nuclear security challenges in 2024 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference simulation

On February 9, students of POLISCI114S: International Security in a Changing World, filed into the Bechtel Conference Room in Encina Hall for the 2024 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Simulation. Fully embracing the personas, sporting suit coats adorned with American Flag lapel pins or Zelenskyy’s signature olive green t-shirts, students assumed the roles of national delegates from 18 countries. Over the course of the simulation, students engaged in rigorous debate, negotiation, and compromise to address the pressing issues surrounding nuclear disarmament, proliferation, and security. 

Background: Origins and Purpose of the NPT Review Conference

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) established in 1968, and enforced in 1970, serves as a cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime. With its three pillars - disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy - the NPT aims to curb the spread of nuclear weapons while promoting international cooperation in nuclear technology. Mandated by Article VIII, the NPT Review Conference convenes every five years to assess the treaty’s progress, address noncompliance and propose recommendations for its enhancement.

Throughout its history, the NPT Review Conference has witnessed moments of both triumph and discord. From the inaugural conference in 1975 to the recent gathering in 2022, state parties have grappled with issues ranging from nuclear disarmament to regional proliferation concerns. While some conferences resulted in consensus-driven outcomes, others faced challenges due to geopolitical tensions and divergent priorities among state members.

The 2024 NPT Review Conference Simulation

Against this backdrop of historical precedent and global significance, students commenced the simulation earlier in the week meeting with fellows, faculty members and affiliates from the Center for International Security and Cooperation who were acting as Heads of State from their respective countries. 

Punctuality is emphasized, as delegates made formal presentations to their Heads of State, following strict diplomatic protocol. They are expected to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the major articles of the NPT and controversies surrounding each provision. Students prioritized national goals and possible concessions, recognizing the importance of collective action and devising strategies to overcome obstacles.

Following these meetings, later in the week, each delegation was allotted a concise 5-minute window to present their country’s stance on bolstering the NPT to the plenary session, with only the delegation chair authorized to deliver the opening speech. Students deliver their speeches with confidence and determination in front of the committee chairs and the conference president, who play crucial roles in steering discussions and making decisions that drive the conference forward.

“In the lead up to the simulation, I was assigned to lead the Russian delegation for the NPT Review Conference simulation, which I knew would be a challenging but fun experience. [...] I had to step far outside my American perspective to adopt views antithetical to my own, and then defend those views vigorously, even as I held onto my personal views of the problems we discussed.” - Ben Harris


As the simulation progresses into subsequent sessions, delegates sent representatives to Main Committee l and Main Committee ll, where they aimed to finalize their recommendations for the Final Document with law students acting as moderators

Forging Solutions

Setting the stage for intense deliberations and negotiations, on day two of the simulation, students were tasked with developing and adopting agreed upon conclusions and recommendations for follow-on action, developed in the committee meetings, with the goal of agreeing on the collective goals and recommendations.

The 2024 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference simulation yielded significant outcomes aimed at enhancing global nuclear security and disarmament efforts. Notable resolutions include urging NPT members to prevent nuclear weapon assistance to non-party states, reaffirming commitments to disarmament obligations, and calling for transparency in disarmament efforts. 

Additionally, the conference saw calls for negotiations on a treaty banning fissile material production, establishing communication and transparency regarding nuclear weapons among states possessing them, and supporting strict compliance with existing nuclear agreements like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).


"It was really a privilege to have the opportunity participate in the simulation as a Head of State. I played the role of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the students who comprised the delegation were incredibly smart, engaged, and effective. More broadly, it was gratifying to watch all of the delegations arrive at a consensus document -- an outcome that real world diplomats have been unable to reach for over a decade." - Caleb Pomeroy