Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Nikita Perfilyev, nonproliferation mediator

Kathryn Davis Fellow, 2009

Nikita’s study of Chinese began at the Tomsk State University in Siberia, where he pursued a degree in international relations. Given his interest in Chinese-Russian military cooperation, Chinese seemed a logical choice—while perhaps not the most popular one. “At the time, there was a saying in Russia,” he explains. “An optimist studies English, and a pessimist studies Chinese.” The history of relations between the two nations fostered a national fear that Russia might end up as China’s “younger brother” with regard to power and inf luence. But Nikita saw that learning Chinese would advance his understanding of global nuclear nonproliferation—particularly Chinese nuclear policy.

Nikita’s career in nonproliferation was launched when Washington Group International sponsored his stint as an intern and researcher at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington, D.C. In the dynamic American capitol, Nikita felt close to the center—he felt empowered to create change. “It is important to me to feel that I am part of something greater than myself,” he explains.

Nikita was later a Fulbright Fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, studying nonproliferation at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. There he pursued a specialty in Chinese policy and spent a summer as a Kathryn Davis Fellow in the Middlebury Chinese School. Nikita is now an external relations officer at the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996, this multilateral treaty compels member states to ban all nuclear explosions. To date, 183 countries have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, but 44 more countries with nuclear technologies must sign on before it can go into effect.

With 260 staff members from 70 countries, the CTBTO works to gain these signatories. At their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Nikita promotes the treaty through outreach activities and education, routinely working with China. That country is certain to play a key role in global nuclear nonproliferation, and Nikita looks forward to a new generation of “strategic dialogue.” He says his summer as a Kathyrn Davis Fellow enabled him to better understand Chinese culture and policy; he is trained and ready to contribute to the discussion.