Discussing the way forward and new directions for Disarmament & Non-Proliferation Education

September 23rd, 2022

As part of the Vienna Conversation Series, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) Vienna Office hosted an event on 9 September 2022, entitled “New directions for Disarmament & Non-Proliferation Education”.

The roundtable discussion aimed to bring together the Vienna-based diplomatic community, and the 2022 cohort of United Nations Disarmament Fellows, along with one of ODA’s key partners on disarmament education, the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP). The United Nations Disarmament Fellowship is a three-month programme, created in 1978 and coordinated by UNODA, to build the capacity of young officials from UN Member States in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. As important constituents of Disarmament and Non-proliferation Education (DNPE), participants engaged in a forward-looking exchange on the achievements, challenges and opportunities related to DNPE.

The roundtable discussion also served as an opportunity to raise awareness about DNPE’s significance in addressing global challenges and amplify fresh thinking on the future vision for disarmament in an era of uncertainty.

From left to right: H.E. Ambassador Luis Javier Campuzano Piña (Permanent Representative of Mexico to the International Organizations in Vienna), H.E. Ambassador Takeshi Hikihara (Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna), Ms. Rebecca Jovin (Chief of UNODA Vienna Office), Mr. Gonzalo Mauricio Vásquez Orozco (2022 UN Disarmament Fellow,), and Ms. Alaa Mazher Bokhari (2022 UN Disarmament Fellow)

Ms. Rebecca Jovin, Chief of UNODA Vienna Office, opened the event, drawing attention to the importance of thinking collectively about innovative ways to conduct DNPE activities, as well as ensuring inclusivity in access to e-learning tools and other materials.

H.E. Ambassador Luis Javier Campuzano Piña, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the International Organizations in Vienna, made introductory remarks, highlighting the need for a fundamental change of paradigms of disarmament and non-proliferation through education, and stated that there cannot be sustainable peace without disarmament. This was followed by remarks by H.E. Ambassador Takeshi Hikihara, Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna, who shared examples of Japan’s experience and underscored the vital role of education in raising awareness on disarmament and non-proliferation issues, of continuous intergenerational collaboration in such efforts, and of youth participation in DNPE.

As part of the discussion, current as well as past UN Disarmament Fellows spoke about the value and potential of DNPE, drawing on their personal experiences through the UN Disarmament Fellowship and other initiatives. Mr. Gonzalo Mauricio Vásquez Orozco highlighted the inherent link between disarmament and peace and emphasized the importance of including civil society in DNPE efforts. Ms. Alaa Mazher Bokhari, in her contributions, focused on the importance of country- and region-specific initiatives in DNPE and underscored the necessity to advance gender parity in the disarmament field.

Word cloud on the future of DNPE generated during the discussion

Around 50 participants engaged in an interactive exchange facilitated by live polling questions and discussion. Stakeholders discussed addressing DNPE challenges in an international environment marked by the intensification of conflicts and scarce resources for education. Among the solutions envisaged were raising awareness and empowering youth and the general public through long-term educational projects, as well as stepping up DNPE-related regional and international cooperation. The conclusions of the exchanges and the results of the live polls used throughout the event will be taken into consideration by UNODA in its ongoing work to develop a comprehensive DNPE strategy.

You can learn more about the Vienna Conversation Series initiative here.