On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Secretary General´s Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament, the Vienna Office of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) organised the webinar “Progress made two years after the launch of the UN Secretary General´s Disarmament Agenda” on 28 May 2020. The webinar, part of the webinar series ‘Disarmament Web Talks’, reflected on how disarmament and non-proliferation discourse and practice have developed since the launch of the Agenda. The event was facilitated by Suzanne Oosterwijk of UNODA’s New York Office.
Around 120 people, including UNODA-OSCE Scholarship for Peace and Security recipients and alumni, professionals from international organisations and civil society, as well as representatives of Permanent Representations in Vienna, participated in the webinar. Four speakers highlighted certain aspects of the Secretary General´s Agenda in short presentations before engaging in an active discussion with the audience.
First, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefly introduced the four pillars of the Disarmament Agenda, underlining the significant progress made in implementing the agenda. She also briefed the audience about how the Office’s disarmament efforts are ongoing during the Covid-19 health crisis. She highlighted how Covid-19 exposed many pre-existing challenges across all four pillars of the Agenda, and how the pandemic underscores the importance of solidarity and of working together internationally. The High Representative emphasized the need for a human security centered approach to international security discourse, and thus also to disarmament. In her remarks, Ms. Nakamitsu pointed towards the actions under the Agenda that aim to extend the security discourse and dialogues on disarmament and non-proliferation beyond UN conference rooms.
“In disarmament, not one single actor alone is able to achieve significant outcome, we need to work together to progress.”
~ Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
Ms. Renata Dwan, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), reminded the audience that the deteriorating international security environment makes disarmament a particularly important tool to manage crises. “Disarmament is a tool for bad times, just as it is for the good times”, she stressed. Furthermore, Ms. Dwan highlighted that disarmament is strongly linked to peace and security, human rights, as well as sustainable development and is therefore at the core of the United Nations´ work. The Agenda has led to significant achievements in rethinking how some disarmament tools could adapt to the realities of new and emerging technologies, new threats and new actors. In this light, she lauded the role of States who have come forward as Disarmament Champions or Supporters, the inclusion of civil society and private actors (including industry), in multiple, parallel disarmament dialogues. Finally, she highlighted the progress made on gender-mainstreaming in disarmament, beyond participation in disarmament fora and discussions.
“Disarmament is a tool for bad times, just as it is for the good times.”
~ Renata Dwan, Director, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
As representative of a Champion for disarmament, Austrian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Thomas Hajnoczi commended the Agenda as a guide to achieving concrete disarmament goals with human security at its centre. He drew particular attention to the devastating direct and indirect impacts of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and called for the international community to ensure the implementation of existing applicable international humanitarian law. Ambassador Hajnoczi mentioned that, under Irish leadership, as per 2019, 133 States are elaborating a political declaration on the use of EWIPA.
OSCE-UNODA Scholarship for Peace and Security 2019 alumna Ms. Lena Strauss focused on women and youth as drivers for change in the field of disarmament. She highlighted the strong contribution of the Agenda to gender mainstreaming and disarmament education. She concluded with a passionate call for young people to become engaged and make their voices heard.
Subsequently, the webinar participants engaged with the speakers, addressing topics such as the role of parliaments in disarmament dialogues, the engagement of the private sector, meaningful participation of youth and women and the strain the international disarmament regime is under.
The recording of the webinar is made available by the Vienna Office of UNODA at www.disarmamenteducation.org.