#SummerSFS: Young Leaders Reflect on Time with GCSP

by Patrick Zimet and Emmie Bultemeier

Each summer, current students of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) Program venture out to all corners of the world to work with organizations in the field of international relations. MSFS 2018 candidates Patrick Zimet and Emmie Bultemeier share their summer experience at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Switzerland.

During the summer of 2017, we worked as Young Leaders in Foreign and Security Policy Fellows at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). Located in Geneva, Switzerland, GCSP conducts research on pressing matters of international security and offers a wide range of executive training courses and seminars, drawing participants from governments, militaries, NGOs, and the private sector.

Working closely with Tobias Vestner (MSFS ’16), the head of the Security and Law Programme, our fellowships incorporated in-depth scholarly research, project design, and a variety of engagements and activities. Upon arrival in Geneva, we participated in the course “Air and Missile Warfare: Navigating the Legal Dimension (Advanced AMPLE)” alongside air force generals, military lawyers, and fighter pilots from 20 different nations. The course covered the operational and legal considerations of air and missile warfare as well as the technological developments in military space programs, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and autonomous weapons systems. We helped organize the Security and Law Programme’s 1st Seminar for Senior NATO/PfP Legal Advisers (SSL), which brought together top lawyers from NATO and Partnership for Peace states to tackle legal challenges in international security. We contributed to strategic planning on enhancing the seminar’s impact and relevance to NATO and its partners, and conceptualized new initiatives for policy-oriented dialogue and executive education.  

Throughout the summer we also spent considerable time conducting a literature review on the implementation of the law of armed conflict (LOAC) by state actors. Through reading and assessing dozens of scholarly sources, we developed a core resource for future GCSP publications and work on theoretical and operational perspectives concerning the implementation of LOAC. We took advantage of the internationally focused culture of Geneva and GCSP’s dynamic foreign policy environment by attending prominent guest speakers, panel forums, fellows briefings, and networking opportunities. Events with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Professor Joseph Nye, and the International Red Cross were key highlights. As part of the Global Fellowship Initiative, we engaged and networked with the accomplished associate and executive-in-residence fellows at GCSP, including the former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, former Vice President of Burundi, a senior Swiss journalist, and the former Regional Director of Operations for East Africa for the International Committee of the Red Cross. In this way, our GCSP fellowships offered an engaging, varied, and enriching array of experiences that facilitated both their professional development and personal growth. We will bring back lessons learned, skills developed, and connections made at GCSP and put them to good use in our future studies in MSFS. As Ambassador Christian Dussey, GCSP Director and former exchange student at Georgetown University, said: “We like to say that we change the world one classroom at a time, by contributing to more effective decision making and nurturing a community of leaders who advance peace and security.”