Thursday, June 18th, 2015...10:12 am

MIIS IPSS alumnus tracks illicit weapons trading around the world

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Information provides governments and policymakers with arms data previously never available.

It was my first year working at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey when I met MIIS IPS ’06 alumnus Jonah Leff. He was studying the effects of conventional and small arms violence under the tutelage of MIIS professor Edward Laurance, a pioneer in the field of small arms and light weapons trade treaties and research. Jonah was also a fellow serving an internship at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Research (UNODA) through the MIIS International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) program. The IPSS program is designed to help students jump-start their careers through junior-level internships in their field during their final semester of graduate schoo.

Jonah currently serves as Director of Operations at Conflict Armament Research and is based out of Nairobi, Kenya (where we recently met). It’s been wonderful reconnecting with Jonah over the years and to see the MIIS and Middlebury College students he has supported in entering the important field of preventing armed violence.

Why is the field of armed violence reduction so important? The use of small arms and conventional light weapons (guns, etc.) is the leading weapon of choice in most of the violent conflicts in the world, and Jonah’s organization provides first-hand research and tracking of illicit arms in a think-tank fashion designed to inform governments and civil society organizations. The information Conflict Armament Research tracks had never been systematically recorded and analyzed leading to policy decisions not informed by concrete data. Their in-depth weapon analysis

It was a pleasure to see Jonah out of a conflict zone and enjoying a Nairobi café last week. He shared his current work and where he sees the field headed. I gave him as many of the exciting updates I could remember from MIIS and the larger Middlebury College community.

Thanks to Jonah for all you do and for being a model alum!


About the Author: Carolyn Meyer is Director of Immersive Professional Learning and Special Programs within the Graduate School of International Policy and Management

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