Youth Leader Fund for a World without Nuclear Weapons Completes First Online Phase 

April 30th, 2024

The Youth Leader Fund for a World without Nuclear Weapons, an innovative learning programme launched in 2023 by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) with the generous financial support from the government of Japan, has reached a significant milestone with the conclusion of its inaugural online course component. As the programme progresses towards its overarching goal of empowering young leaders to advocate for a nuclear- weapon-free world, the successful completion of the online course by 85% of participants marks a key achievement of this first phase. 

Comprising 100 participants selected from a competitive pool of over 2,000 applicants worldwide, the first cohort of the Youth Leader Fund represents a diverse and dynamic group of young leaders committed to driving positive change. Coming from 64 countries, including all five nuclear-weapon states, with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, this group of enthusiastic youth brings a wealth of perspectives and fresh ideas to the field of nuclear disarmament advocacy.

YLF participants attending a live webinar during the online training course. 

Over the past months, participants engaged in a comprehensive online learning journey designed to provide them with a solid foundation in key principles of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control. Through a combination of self-paced modules, interactive webinars with experts, and skills-building workshops, they honed their critical thinking, creativity, and leadership skills.  

The self-paced modules served as the cornerstone of the online curriculum, offering topics crucial to developing an understanding of nuclear disarmament efforts. Participants started their journey gaining a foundational understanding of what the processes, the instruments, and measures for pursuing disarmament are, along with an in-depth exploration of goals and challenges in the field. The second session delved more deeply into the key treaties and institutions, emphasizing the indispensable roles they play in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The final session addressed the multifaceted landscape of disarmament, including its intersections with gender issues, emerging technologies, and regional security dynamics, as well as providing comprehensive insights into the role of humanitarian movements in supporting disarmament efforts and the ethical considerations surrounding nuclear weapons. 

A series of live webinars provided participants with the opportunity to engage directly with inter-generational experts in the field, gaining insights into the current challenges and opportunities in nuclear disarmament. These events not only allowed a more nuanced understanding of disarmament complexities and practical application of different instruments, but also provided a chance to reflect on knowledge gained and perspectives developed through peer-to-peer engagement and networking with other participants. 

A Hibakusha sharing his firsthand experience during the YLF launch event.

YLF launch event: a young advocate continuing the legacy of the Hibakusha sharing her experience. 

Three skills-building workshops, implemented in cooperation with the United Nations System Staff College, complemented the theoretical knowledge gained through the self-paced modules and webinars by providing participants with practical tools and techniques for effective advocacy. From leadership to negotiation strategies and problem-solving, these workshops equipped participants with the skills needed to drive positive change in their communities and beyond.  

A strong focus on the unique contributions of youth in advancing disarmament initiatives was maintained throughout the course, providing targeted discussion questions and actionable tools to inspire advocacy strategies and mobilization tactics across all topics discussed.  

As the online course concludes, half of the participants will embark on the next phase of the learning journey. 50 of them will be selected to participate in a week-long study tour to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in partnership with UNITAR, where a total of 100 youths will engage with survivors of the atomic bombings, hibakusha, and deepen their understanding of the human impact of nuclear weapons. Others will continue their advocacy efforts in their communities, applying the knowledge and skills gained during the programme to drive positive change. Through education, skills training, mentoring, and other support, the programme aims to empower participants to continue their disarmament and peace and security work in their fields of interest and expertise long after the programme concludes.  

Looking ahead, the Youth Leader Fund for a World without Nuclear Weapons will continue to cultivate a global network of young professionals dedicated to building a safer, more peaceful world for all with three additional rounds of training until 2030. The next call for application is envisioned to be opened in 2025.