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International Peace and Security Challenge


About the Competition

The International Peace and Security Challenge, inspired by the profound insights of Professor Ayse Zarakol, invites high school students from around the globe to engage in critical thinking and contribute innovative solutions to pressing issues in international peace and security. This essay competition aims to stimulate academic discourse among young scholars, encouraging a comprehensive and multi-faceted exploration of global security challenges.



We are deeply grateful to Professor Ayse Zarakol for providing the thought-provoking prompts that serve as the foundation of this competition. Her dedication to fostering intellectual growth and understanding in international relations is truly commendable. Special thanks also go to Senator Gordon M. Johnson for his support and participation in recognizing the achievements of our participants.



Awards will be given in recognition of exceptional essays that stand out for their insight, research quality, and contribution to the field:

  • Grand Award: For the most outstanding essay, displaying unparalleled understanding and innovative analysis.

  • Gold Award: For essays that demonstrate significant research depth, persuasive argumentation, and a strong contribution to peace and security studies.

  • Silver Award: For essays that offer excellent research and insightful analysis, contributing positively to the discourse.

  • Bronze Award: For essays that present solid research and provide valuable perspectives on peace and security.



  • The competition is open to high school students worldwide.

  • Participants must be currently enrolled in a high school program.

  • Submissions must be the original work of the participant, unpublished elsewhere.

  • Collaborative essays between students are not permitted; each essay must be the work of a single student.


Essay Prompts

Participants are invited to write an essay on one of the following prompts:


1. The Role of Emerging Technologies in Shaping Global Security Dynamics: Analyze how advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence, cyber capabilities, and unmanned systems, are transforming the landscape of international security. Discuss the implications of these technologies for global power balances and the potential for international cooperation to mitigate associated risks.


2. Revisiting the Westphalian Sovereignty in the 21st Century: Critique the concept of Westphalian sovereignty in the context of current global challenges such as transnational terrorism, climate change, and global pandemics. Explore how these issues are reshaping the principles of non-interference and state sovereignty, and propose how international law and institutions might evolve to address these challenges.

3. The Impact of Identity and Culture on International Peace and Security: Examine how identity politics, including nationalism, ethnicity, and religious beliefs, contribute to conflict and cooperation on the global stage. Propose strategies for leveraging cultural diplomacy and intercultural dialogue to enhance peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts.


4. Economic Sanctions: A Double-Edged Sword for International Security: Evaluate the effectiveness of economic sanctions as a tool for achieving international security objectives. Discuss the ethical and humanitarian considerations of sanctions, and consider alternative approaches that could support peace and security without adversely affecting civilian populations.


5. The Future of Global Alliances and Security Cooperation: Analyze the evolution of international alliances and security partnerships in response to shifting global power dynamics and emerging security threats. Discuss the role of institutions such as NATO and the UN in promoting collective security, and explore the potential for new forms of cooperation that can address the complexities of the 21st-century security environment.


Key Deadlines & Facts

  • Deadline to Submit: 04/19/2024 11:59 PM EST

  • Announcement of Winners: 05/13/2024

  • Awards Ceremony: Grand Award and Gold Award winners will be invited to an award ceremony, with awards presented by Senator Gordon M. Johnson.


Evaluation Criteria

Essays will be evaluated based on:

  • Relevance to the chosen prompt and overarching theme.

  • Originality and depth of analysis.

  • Argumentative coherence and clarity.

  • Research quality and source utilization.

  • Compliance with MLA formatting guidelines.


How to Submit

Participants must email their essays to with the following format and guidelines:

  • Subject Line: Participant's Full Name_School Name_Prompt_IPS Challenge Submission.

  • Attachment: Submit your essay as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx format). Include a cover page in the same document with your full name, school, grade, and contact information (email and phone number).

  • Format: Your essay must be typed, double-spaced, using Times New Roman 12-point font, and have 1-inch margins on all sides. Ensure your essay adheres to the MLA formatting guidelines for citations and works cited.

  • Word Count: Your essay must be no more than 1500 words, excluding the works cited page. Please include a word count at the end of your essay.

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