On 31 July 2023, ten young leaders presented their innovative ideas and recommendations to inspire inclusive, diverse, and efficient multilateral processes in an official side event to the first Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2026 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Ms. Marykate Monaghan, Youth Outreach Consultant with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), moderated the event, titled “A.I.M. (Advocates in Motion) for a way forward: Youth insights for strengthening the disarmament machinery”.
The side event, organised by UNODA, provided a dedicated space for young people to share their insights which sparked intergenerational dialogue on ways to take forward their action-oriented ideas. Over 60 participants attended the hybrid event, with virtual and in-person attendants, including representatives from Member States, international organizations, media and civil society.
The recommendations were developed by over 50 young leaders active in the Youth, Peace, and Security field as part of the Leaders to the Future Series. The programme was launched in January 2023 under UNODA’s #Youth4Disarmament initiative to engage alumni of the Office’s previous youth training programmes and winners from its creative projects on the linkages between disarmament and the following six topics: multilateralism, outer space, emerging technologies, diversity, gender parity and the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace.
With generous financial support from the Government of the Republic of Korea, ten of the Leaders to the Future travelled to Vienna to present the cohort’s insights to key stakeholders and participate in a wide range of briefings, guided visits and other side events as part of a four-day study trip.
Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, stressed the crucial need to work with young people to address global challenges. “Youth voices, underpinned by energy, creativity, and above all, commitment to a better world, are of vital importance to our common future,” she told the audience. Ms. Nakamitsu also noted the sense of optimism felt by young people for building a safer future for all. “In return, it is our role and responsibility to listen, support and invest in the empowerment of youth,” she added.
In opening remarks, Mr. YOUN Jong Kwon, Director General for Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, highlighted that the fresh thinking and innovative ideas of young people are essential for advancing disarmament objectives. Mr. YOUN also highlighted the importance of meaningful youth engagement and noted his country’s continued commitment to facilitating platforms for young people to participate and contribute to disarmament efforts.
Following the introductory remarks, the ten young leaders presented their recommendations, including ideas to reinvigorate multilateralism and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field. The proposals included gender quotas to achieve parity within State delegations; educational campaigns to raise awareness on the potential impact of emerging technologies on international peace and security; and avenues to increase the participation of underrepresented groups, including youth, within the NPT review process.
The recommendations will be available to read in full on the #Youth4Disarmament Initiative’s website. Presenters included Mr. Almonteser Albalawi, Ms. Christelle Barakat, Mr. Musa Carew, Mr. Philip Chennery, Ms. Monalisa Hazarika, Ms. Sofia Polishchuk, Ms. Vanda Prošková, Ms. Mariana Roa, Ms. Linh Trang Phung, and Mr. Santiago Yarahuán.
In response to the presentations, Mr. Marvin Huber, UN Youth Delegate of Austria, noted the need for stakeholders to meaningfully support young people in their role as key drivers of change. In her intervention, Ms. Elin Bergner, Research Assistant for Open Nuclear Network, called on youth unfamiliar with the disarmament field to embrace their curiosity by devising new ideas and approaches for advancing progress within the disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control regime.
In closing remarks, Ms. Radha Day, Chief of UNODA’s Regional Disarmament, Information and Outreach Branch, commended the young leaders on their presentations and encouraged youth to engage in network-building initiatives to maximise the impact of their activities. Ms. Day also called on decision-makers to build upon the dedicated space created by the side event in order to strengthen the sustainability of youth engagement and empowerment efforts, including through increased investment in disarmament education and youth outreach.
A recording of the event is available here.
Images by UNODA/Ms. Ana Moruja Nigro.