On 2 August 2022, young people across the world gathered online to share their perspectives on advancing the youth, non-proliferation, and disarmament agenda during two side-events to the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The two sessions form part of a wider series of side-event co-organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, and BASIC’s Emerging Voices Network, to engage and empower young leaders on discussions taking place on nuclear disarmament.
Over 80 participants attended the opening event to hear young experts and senior leaders discuss priorities for the disarmament agenda and the role of young people as experts, activists, scholars, and policymakers in the disarmament field. The Next Generation Plenary was moderated by Ms. Togzhan Kassennova.
Opening the event, Mr. Christopher King, Senior Political Affairs Officer at UNODA, highlighted a number of activities provided by the Office to facilitate the participation and contribution of youth in disarmament. “Creating space for young people from all over the world, giving them a seat at the table, and providing platforms for their views to be heard is a priority for UNODA,” he told the participants.
In opening remarks, Mr. Sunghoom Kim, Counselor to the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, noted that his country is a proud champion for youth engagement in disarmament.
Beginning the plenary discussion, Ms. Kseniia Pirnavskaia emphasized that young people’s creative mindsets are crucial for engaging and educating wider audiences on issues related to disarmament and non-proliferation, including by creating podcasts, webcasts, and social media initiatives. “This creativity of younger experts helps to raise awareness and promote disarmament to a wider audience.”
In her remarks, Ms. Tonie Jaquez from the Mexican Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, expressed the need to increase the participation of young people in decision-making processes. For Mexico, she said, that means including a set number of youth as part of the country’s multilateral delegations at the United Nations.
Next, Ms. Dilan Koç reflected on her experience with the UN Youth Champions for Disarmament training programme, noting the importance of disarmament education in empowering the next generation. “I believe that through effective education and advocacy programmes, we can build the next generation of policy leaders, scholars and advocates,” she said. Ms. Koç noted the near universal membership of the NPT provides an opportunity to bring in voices that are often underrepresented in the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policy community.
Ms. Dahee Song, First Secretary of Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, encouraged both the youth participants and attendants to remain determined in their efforts to advance the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda: “I urge you to speak up. Make your voices heard. Form a partnership. And please do not give up. This is a marathon: a long and challenging process.”
During a question-and-answer session, the speakers discussed possibilities for confidence building measures, avenues for youth to get involved in the disarmament field, and actions for delegations to take towards youth engagement during the NPT Review Conference.
Directly after the plenary, 50 youth participants formed four working groups to discuss and prioritize action items with a view to formulating innovate and practical recommendations to advance the NPT’s objectives across its three pillars as well as on the topic of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The working group sprint session enabled young leaders to share fresh perspectives.
The Chairs from the Youth Working Groups will share the finalized insights and recommendations of the group with an esteemed panel of four senior leaders at the third and final side-event on Thursday, 11 August. Registration is still open for interested participants to attend and hear the outcomes from the intergenerational exchange.
Taking place on the margins of the NPT Review Conference, the two side-events provided a platform for young leaders to come together, discuss and present their ideas for establishing a peaceful, more secure and sustainable future for all.
For more information, please visit the dedicated webpage.