On 20 May 2022, Austria held its bi-annual “Lange Nacht der Forschung”, or “Long Night of Research” in English, a nation-wide open-door event to bring science and research to the general public. The United Nations family in Vienna, known for its science and technology focus, participated with stands and interactive content in the VIC’s Rotunda to showcase the work of numerous entities, including the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). Staff from the Vienna and Geneva offices engaged with all ages in showcasing the activities of UNODA and how these are linked to science in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.
The UNODA stand was put together through a joint effort of the UNODA Vienna and Geneva Offices, with support from Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and our civil society partner, Open Nuclear Network.
It featured a touch screen-based computer with an interactive quiz, available to visitors also on smartphones via QR code, and a polling station posing the question “Science: an opportunity or risk to peace and disarmament?”. Results showed that a majority of participants sees science more as an advantage to disarmament. Moreover, the team installed a mannequin wearing CBRN protective equipment to demonstrate its features. Several non-proliferation videos, on disarmament, as well as the work of the OPCW, Open Nuclear Network, UNIDIR and UNODA’s Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit, were presented to the audience on a TV screen. A selfie corner invited visitors to share their enthusiasm for science and disarmament on their social media channels. The team engaged in interactive discussions with audiences young and old on the role of science and the prevailing challenges and opportunities to multilateral disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. Educational materials in English and German and memorabilia were available for visitors to take home.
Bottom line: Disarmament matters, and you can have fun learning about it.
Written by: Mr. Julius Seidenader and Ms. Veerle Moyson