On 19 October 2022, a group of young leaders presented their projects to engage youth on topics related to disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control in a side event of the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee. Ms. Soo Hyun Kim, #Youth4Disarmament lead with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), moderated the event.
The side event provided a platform for young people to share their perspectives and ideas for the future of disarmament, and sparked intergenerational dialogue on ways to advance our shared disarmament objectives.The cohort of young leaders developed their projects following the completion of the #Leaders4Tomorrow workshop series, conducted by UNODA’s #Youth4Disarmament initiative to explore the linkages between disarmament and five topics that are closely related to international peace and security: education, emerging technologies, environment, gender, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
With generous financial support from the Government of the Republic of Korea, the #Leaders4Tomorrow travelled to the United Nations Headquarters to share their ideas and explore the theme of ‘disarmament education as a solution to peace’ as part of a four-day study visit.
Mr. Adedeji Ebo, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, delivered opening remarks on behalf of Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noting the young leaders will spark a ripple effect in their local communities. “As our world faces multiple global challenges, including increased global tensions, we need your leadership, innovation, and action more than ever before – simply put, as the leaders for tomorrow, we need you to act today,” he emphasized.
In opening remarks, Mr. Sunghoon Kim, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to United Nations, emphasized the importance of meaningful youth engagement and noted his country’s commitment to facilitating platforms for young people to participate and contribute to disarmament efforts, as national and global citizens.
In her remarks, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, noted the contributions of young people as paramount for creating a more sustainable and peaceful world for all. “Their innovative ideas to engage fellow youth on topics related to disarmament will inform, inspire and drive the transformation we seek,” she noted.
Then, Ms. Marykate Monaghan, project lead of the #Leaders4Tomorrow workshop series, introduced the three working groups formed by the #Leaders4Tomorrow to present their projects, which aim to 1) engage, 2) educate and 3) empower young people in disarmament.
A diverse range of initiatives were highlighted by the group, ranging from research projects, interactive materials, a film documentary to feature the stories of youth advocates, and a baking campaign to raise awareness for nuclear disarmament. By providing an array of activities, the #Leaders4Tomorrow will strive to provide platforms for young people of all backgrounds and interests to learn about disarmament and its role in establishing a safer, more peaceful world for all.
In his response to the presentations, Ambassador Mohan Pieris of Sri Lanka, Chair of the First Committee, emphasised the need to establish intergenerational partnerships to ensure the projects reach their full potential and maximize impact.
Representatives from Member States provided remarks on the importance of disarmament education as an avenue to engage and empower young people, including Ambassador Thomas Göbel, Permanent Representative of Germany to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and Mr. Eduardo Alcibíades Sánchez Kiesslich, UNSC Deputy Political Coordinator, non-proliferation & East Africa at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN.
Dr. Matthew Bolton from Pace University, commended the group on their creativity and innovation, while Ms. Taylor Mangus, a student at Pace University, emphasized the importance of youth-inclusive and youth-led activities.
In closing remarks, Ms. Radha Day, Chief of UNODA’s Regional Disarmament, Information and Outreach Branch, congratulated the young leaders on their constructive and informative presentations and highlighted education as a key tool for engaging audiences not traditionally involved in the disarmament field.
The cohort of young leaders will now embark on implementing their projects to advance disarmament education as a solution to peace.