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24 August 2020

Get ready to rumble: Young experts compete to save arms control

Join the final of Arms Control Idol 2020 as young arms control experts come head-to-head in a policy pitch contest.

Arms Control Idol 2020
Arms Control Idol 2020

With the global arms control regime in peril, the best and brightest early career experts are racing to save it – in the first policy pitch competition hosted by the Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) and the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.

Move over International Day of Democracy – there’s a new reason to pencil in September 15 2020: Arms Control Idol. The contest will be battled out online, so register early to guarantee a virtual seat in the audience.

With the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) Treaty, allegations of Russian cheating on various agreements, and US plans to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, arms control as we know it is in jeopardy. Arms control is a term used to describe international restrictions on the development, production, stockpiling, proliferation and usage of small arms, conventional weapons, and weapons of mass destruction.

New technologies, like cyber and artificial intelligence, also challenge historical approaches to arms control as rooted in ‘strategic stability’, and the outlook for the next decade and beyond is increasingly uncertain. Bonnie Jenkins recently called for ‘imaginative thinking’ for the future of arms control. Arms Control Idol is a new competition to jump start the conversation.

From 3pm to 4.30pm BST, the best and brightest early-career arms control experts will meet in a live online competition to pitch their biggest, most ambitious idea to save arms control before a panel of expert grand final judges.

Winners will walk away with serious cash prizes (£2000 for the grand finalist and £500 each for runner-up and audience favourite), but the real prize will be the inspired ideas for change – from new agreements, to new technological applications, the sky is the limit for the young competitors. 

Only the top five applications, from entries that were submitted before 21 August 2020 and chosen by an expert selection panel, have been given this opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of style and substance in front of the grand final judges.

CSSS and the Department of War Studies, King’s College London are excited to announce the line-up for the judging panel, packed full of arms control heavyweights:

  • Lieutenant General (Retired) Evgeny Buzhinsky, PhD, Chair of the Executive Board, Russian Center for Policy Studies (PIR Centre)
  • H.E. Marjolijn van Deelen, Ambassador for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Head of the Non-proliferation, Disarmament and Nuclear Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
  • Dr. Renata Dwan, Director of The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
  • Ambassador Dr. Bonnie Jenkins, Founder and Chair of Women of Colour Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS)
  • Professor Li Bin, Professor of International Relations, Tsinghua University

The live grand final event will be held online and is open to the public – but tickets are limited so get yours ASAP! Further details can be found on the Centre's event page. For more information, contact Emily Enright (

Event information and biographies of the finalists

Download a summary of the event and a round up of biographies about the finalists.


Arms Control Idol 2020

Inspired by Policy Idol, an annual competition hosted by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, Arms Control Idol is...