Educators and experts are the keys to help young people and the general public think critically about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and military arms races. Effective and accessible disarmament and nonproliferation education (DNPE) means providing resources and support to educators and experts as well as students.
On 28 May, Ms. Yukimi Kubo at the United Nations for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) virtually joined the annual academic conference of the Japan Association of Disarmament Studies to present the Office’s efforts for DNPE and challenges for future work. The presentation was a part of UNODA’s efforts to engage with educators, experts and policymakers on ways to strentghten and expand disarmament education across the globe.
The research conference brought together about 80 participants from universities, research institutes, media, civil society organizations as well as government officials from Japan and the United States. Participants’ affiliations include the University of Tokyo, Hitotsubashi University, Kyoto University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Nagasaki University, Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA), National Institute for Defense Studies, James Martin Center of Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Pennsylvania University, Peace Boat, and Hiroshima for Global Peace (HOPe), as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the National Defense Academy.
In the first session, Ms. Yukimi Kubo, Associate Political Affairs Officer at UNODA, spoke about ways in which more strengthened DNPE efforts can contribute to better, broader and more inclusive conversations and awareness about disarmament and its vital role in the global peace and security agenda. She explained the UN’s long history in engaging students, educators and young people in this area, as outlined in the United Nations Study on disarmament and nonproliferation education (A/57/124) and the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament, “Securing Our Common Future.” She also introduced the different tools the Office uses to impart knowledge and skills to individuals, such as training courses and educational materials available on the Disarmament Education Dashboard and the Disarmament Education website, scholarship opportunities including the Disarmament Fellowship and the OSCE-UNODA scholarship, and other types of seminars, workshops and activities for educators, students, experts and practitioners, including a project for responsible innovation. UNODA’s #Youth4Disarmament initiative, she added, is specifically set up to engage, educate and empower geographically diverse young people by connecting them with experts to learn about current international security challenges, the work of the United Nations and how to actively participate.
Ms. Kubo noted the various challenges and opportunities connected to delivering sustained and readily available disarmament education. This included a need for introductory disarmament education materials, especially in languages other than English, to enable a more inclusive and geographically diverse approach and spark interest with students – such as UNODA’s #Intro2Disarmament video series. In the context of Japan, she noted that the Hibakusha – survivors of the atomic bombings of Hisroshima and Nakasaki – have long played a crucial role in sharing their experiences and advocating for a nuclear-weapon-free world. As they are getting older, it becomes increasingly important to connect younger generations to their stories and keep their legacies alive. On a structural level, the digital divide means not everyone gets to have access to and benefit from remote and online disarmament education activities, an issue that must be creatively and effectively addressed. To overcome those challenges, Ms. Kubo suggested, strengthened cooperation and collaboration between and with civil society, academia, Member States and international organizations has the potential to build networks and mutually reinforce efforts and activities.
The ensuing Q&A session sparked a lively debate about ways to include security experts, officials, and military personnel with varying viewpoints in disarmament education activities, with a view to jointly discussing and addressing challenging and complex disarmament issues together. Participants also spoke about opportunties for exploring the synergy of disarmament education with other global agendas, similar to ODA’s efforts to link DNPE with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender and climate change. At the end of the session, various educators expressed a readiness to include disarmament education materials in their classes to help their students acquire knowledge, skills and critical mind to analyze the ever-changing security environments and pathways to tackle disarmament and nonproliferation issues.
For further information, please contact Ms. Yukimi Kubo, Associate Political Affairs Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information on disarmament and nonproliferation education of the Office for Disarmament Affairs, please contact Mr. Charles Ovink, Political Affairs Officer, at email@example.com.