Vienna Conversation Series event on different ways to promote progress in disarmament through education, youth participation, diplomacy and artistic engagement 

July 3rd, 2024

Vienna Conversation Series event organized by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) Vienna Office, in cooperation with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

In June, the 2024 UN Disarmament Fellows undertook their first study visits of this year’s iteration of the programme. Vienna, home to UNODA’s education hub, was one of the destinations, along with Geneva and Brussels. On the occasion of the Fellows’ visit, which coincided with that of the winners of CTBTO’s 2024 Global Art Campaign, UNODA’s Vienna Office, together with CTBTO, organized one of its flagship dialogue events. 

Under the title “Different means for a common goal”, the panel explored various ways to promote progress in disarmament, including the role of education and the power of art to inform and to serve as a catalyst to inspire action for disarmament. Panelists reflected on the impact of diverse educational initiatives in engaging and empowering others. Former and current participants of the UN Fellowship Programme were invited to share their experiences and key takeaways from the programme, as well as other capacity-building efforts to facilitate more inclusive, efficient and diverse disarmament efforts in the future. The winning artists had the opportunity to showcase their work and contextualize it, shining a light on their sources of inspiration and the messages they hope to convey.

The artistic piece of Mr. Shadi Alzubi illustrates the stark contrast between a world with nuclear weapons tests and a world without. Mr. Alzabi is one of the top 15 winners of the CTBTO Youth Group Art Campaign.

Ms. Marykate Monaghan, Junior Project Advisor for Youth and Disarmament with UNODA, moderated the panel. She kicked off the conversation by highlighting that art can engage us both intellectually and emotionally by tapping into our imagination. The winners of the CTBTO Global Art Campaign, Ms. Ekaterina Poriadina, Ms. Virginia Bertuzzi, and Mr. Shadi Alzubi, reflected on their personal journeys and creations. Ms. Lovely Umayam, Communications Consultant at UNODA, contributed with some reflections on the various artworks featured, highlighting the importance of art as a conversation starter as well as a universal language.

Ms. Ekaterina Poriadina recorded her own song as her submission to the art campaign. To develop the song, she put herself in the shoes of someone unfamiliar with disarmament issues, who just wants to live in a world free of nuclear weapons.

Former and current UN Disarmament Fellows respectively, Mr. Fouad Hetta (Egypt) and Ms. Alina Cañas Vargas (Costa Rica) reminisced about their participation in the programme, sharing personal insights and tips for young diplomats.  Both underscored that the Fellowship had been an extremely positive experience and had afforded an opportunity to become better diplomats  by providing the opportunity to  engage with colleagues from different backgrounds and perspectives. Finally, Mr. Marius Jano, member of CTBTO’s Youth Group Task Force, reflected on the role of multidisciplinary networks and initiatives and on the importance of inclusion and diversity in educational and empowerment activities.

The recording of the event is available here, and a podcast version is up under the Disarmament Today podcast series.