ACE Scholarship Recipient: Samantha Ku – United Nations Geneva

One of our ACE Scholarship recipients of the spring 2018 term, Intern: Scotland, United Nations House Scotland (UNHS), student Samantha Ku, from UC Irvine, had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee at the United Nations in Geneva. Read about her experience and what she learned on her trip below:


I was honoured in April to receive the Academic Extra-Curriculars (ACE) Scholarship IMG_5525from the UC Trust UK. I received the incredible opportunity to represent my office at the United Nations House Scotland (UNHS) at the 2018 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee at the United Nations in Geneva. There, I engaged with diplomats, disarmament campaigners, and international organisation officials from around the world. I gained a better understanding of the intricacies of treaty-making and saw international relations play out in real-time. Being able to attend the 2018 NPT PrepCom has been one of the highlights of my undergraduate career.

This spring, I was the nuclear non-proliferation resident intern at the United Nations House Scotland in Edinburgh, one of the placements of UCEAP’s Intern: Scotland programme. Working at UNHS has given me many opportunities to use my academic knowledge of international relations in a real-world and real-time capacity. This trip to the UN in Geneva however was the absolute highlight of my time in Edinburgh. I saw first-hand the international cooperation required to bring together what became the foundation of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. In these turbulent political times, with strongman rhetoric and irresponsible threats of nuclear war, an emphasis on diplomacy and dialogue is more important than ever.

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Attending the NPT PrepCom was incredibly important to both my academic 7C87ECB3-82FF-48F2-A9EA-CB4E0039E65Eand professional interests. Academically, it helped inform my political science honours thesis (on a post-Brexit security relationship between the UK and EU through the lens of nuclear non-proliferation). Writing a thesis abroad was a difficult task in itself, but being at the NPT and gaining intensely technical knowledge about the treaty helped me think through a lot of shifting pieces. It also gave me a clearer understanding of how a treaty comes to be and how implementation continues through the decades; this year is its golden jubilee – 50 years of the NPT. It was also enlightening to see how diplomats interact with each other and the role of non-governmental organisations and the third sector in the international sphere.  I have wanted to be a diplomat for as long as I can remember, and it was amazing to see how this career path may play out and to see the nuances of international relations.  Meeting inspiring campaigners from around the world, starting with university delegations to people who have been in the disarmament field since the advent of nuclear weapons, was also an incredible experience.

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Participating in this conference in Geneva, one of the most expensive cities in the world, would not have been possible without the ACE Scholarship. Whether your project is a one-day event nearby or a week across the continent, I would recommend seeking whatever funding you can, with many sources available through UCEAP and home universities.  The ACE Scholarship was a tremendous help for the NPT PrepCom and I am grateful to have received support from the UC Trust UK to make the most of my internship term abroad in Edinburgh.

∼To read a more profound reflection of Samantha’s experience at the 2018 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee through UNHS, click here.

∼Samantha also wrote a couple pieces for nuclearban.scot; to read about her first day at the NPT, click here.  To read about her first week at the NPT, click here.


If you’re interested in learning more about the ACE Scholarship or would like to apply, please click here