What’s next for disarmament education? UNODA Vienna Office launches new strategy as it celebrates 10-year anniversary

December 23rd, 2022

In a “soft launch” event held in Vienna on 5 December 2022, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) announced the publication of its first ever Disarmament Education Strategy. The audience included members of the local diplomatic community and the United Nations family, representatives of regional and civil society organizations, as well as past and present staff of the UNODA Vienna Office.

The strategy aims to adopt a more strategic approach and develop a common framework for UNODA’s disarmament education work.

Disarmament education has long been a key priority for the Office with a significant number of educational activities carried out across its different organizational branches and duty stations. The UNODA Disarmament Education Strategy represents an effort to strengthen the sustainability and impact of the Office’s work, and respond to the pressing need for authoritative, far-reaching, and inclusive disarmament education amidst the increasingly challenging disarmament and international security landscape.

UNODA’s Disarmament Education Strategy serves as an overall guidepost for its work and will be complemented by periodic internal action plans with time-bound deliverables

The strategy outlines the  four key outcome areas that the Office will strive to advance in the coming years in its disarmament education work. Ms. Rebecca Jovin, Chief of the UNODA Vienna Office, presented  these key goals at the launch event, underscoring UNODA’s comparative advantages in the field of disarmament education due to its unique expertise and impartiality, as well as its convening and connecting power. She highlighted that UNODA would work along numerous education tracks concurrently, integrating disarmament dimensions into broader educational initiatives, both within and beyond the United Nations, and reinforce an understanding of disarmament’s relevance for peace and security, development, human rights, and gender equality. Additionally, Ms. Jovin stressed the central role of partnerships and UNODA’s commitment to continue to generate, connect and bridge relevant networks in the disarmament education field moving forward.

UNODA’s new Disarmament Education Strategy outlines the Office’s disarmament education goals and envisioned outcomes
From left to right: Ambassador Mr. Alexander Kmentt, Ms. Rebecca Jovin and Ms. Elena Sokova address the audience about the key role of disarmament education in advancing international peace and security, and the indispensability of partnerships in these efforts

She was joined by Ambassador Mr. Alexander Kmentt, Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Department of the Austrian Foreign Ministry​, as well as Ms. Elena Sokova, Executive Director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP).

Mr. Kmentt highlighted the essential role of disarmament education, especially in the current turbulent international security environment, and reaffirmed his country’s strong support for disarmament education as a long-standing political priority and a great investment in our future. He also announced Austria’s financial support to the UNODA Vienna Office to carry forward this work and called for broad donor support in disarmament education.

Ms. Sokova followed by expressing her Center’s commitment to contribute to implementing the strategy and collaborating with UNODA and other key partners in enhancing disarmament and non-proliferation goals. She highlighted the importance of adopting a community approach, bringing together different audiences, methodologies and capacities to successfully address international security challenges, especially by engaging more extensively with constituencies outside the traditional disarmament field, and tailoring resources and approaches to specific audiences and contexts.

The global launch of the strategy is envisioned for the first half of 2023.

Staff of the UNODA Vienna Office were joined by Ambassador Mr. Alexander Kmentt for a group photo at a  reception celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Office

The launch event also provided an occasion to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the UNODA Vienna Office. Ambassador Kmentt recalled the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), when the idea for the hosting of a UNODA Office in Vienna (and the establishment of the VCDNP) was initiated by former Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in order to enhance focus and expertise in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, foster a closer collaboration with other UNODA offices, and strengthen capacity-building efforts in the Austrian capital. Ms. Sokova noted the shared roots, vision and goals of the UNODA Vienna Office and VCDNP, as well as the long-standing ties between the two entities that have manifested in collaboration on a variety of joint initiatives.

The launch event was followed by a reception. Ms. Jovin thanked those who have supported the UNODA Vienna Office over the years, and presented a forward-looking vision for the Office, based on effective and collaborative partnerships.

An anniversary video, which was screened during the event, showcasing the achievements and key milestones of the UNODA Vienna Office in the past decade, is available here.