UNODA Vienna Office marks International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness with series of engaging events

April 11th, 2024

Observed on 5 March, the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness (IDDNPA) seeks to promote better awareness and understanding of disarmament issues, especially among young people. Through resolution A/RES/77/51, adopted in December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly invited all Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system, civil society, academia, the media, and individuals to commemorate this annual International Day, including through all means of educational and public awareness-raising activities.

To celebrate this year’s IDDNPA, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) launched various awareness-raising campaigns, in line with the selected theme for 2024, of “reducing the human cost of weapons”. The Vienna Office contributed to the global programme by implementing a range of initiatives, which also marked International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March, by adopting a gender lens in its activities.

The campaign kicked off with an exhibition booth displayed in the Vienna International Center, home to many Vienna-based international organizations, from 28 February until 8 March. The booth featured educational materials and postcards on the human cost of weapons, an interactive game on disarmament-related facts and figures, and short videos on disarmament and the work of UNODA and the Vienna Office. Those successfully completing the interactive game even had the opportunity to enter a draw to win a disarmament poster.

In addition to the themed exhibition, the Vienna Office hosted a new edition of the Vienna Conversation Series on 15 March. The event, entitled “Reducing the human cost of weapons: human-centred disarmament through a gender lens”, was held in cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the Austrian Research Association, and the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the International Organizations in Vienna.

In his welcoming remarks, H.E. Mr. Tolendy Makeyev, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations in Vienna, drew attention to the importance of gender equality and the involvement of women and young people in disarmament and non-proliferation education which “will bring invaluable benefits to the world community”.

H.E. Mr. Tolendy Makeyev of the Kyrgyz Republic delivered opening remarks. The Kyrgyz Republic has been a strong advocate of disarmament education and awareness-raising, and the initiator of the General Assembly resolution establishing the IDDNPA.

The panel was comprised of Ms. Federica Dall’Arche from the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP), Mr. Fabrizio Sarrica from the Research Innovation and Partnership Section/Research and Trends Analysis Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Mr. Dragan Božanić from the United Nations Development Programme South-Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNDP SEESAC). Moderated by Prof. Dr. Markus Kornprobst from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the distinguished panellists reflected on a range of issues related to the gendered impact of conventional weapons. Some of the points raised included challenges to women’s full and equal participation and leadership in disarmament and other decision-making processes, global and regional trends and statistics in the use of small arms and light weapons and firearms in domestic and gender-based violence, and the gendered perception of the use of firearms often fuelled by patriarchal power structures.

The panel discussion was followed by a lively exchange between speakers and audience members, including many students, in the room. A recording of the hybrid event can be watched here, and is also available in a podcast format here.

From left to right: Ms. Rebecca Jovin (UNODA Vienna Office), Mr. Fabrizio Sarrica (UNODC), Ms. Federica Dall’Arche (VCDNP), and Prof. Dr. Markus Kornprobst (Diplomatic Academy of Vienna). Mr. Dragan Božanić (UNDP SEESAC) (not in the picture) joined the discussion virtually.

To conclude the series of events commemorating the International Day, the Vienna Office teamed up with the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna for a joint Ciné-ONU film screening on 25 March. Through the Ciné-ONU series, UNIS Vienna regularly organizes documentary screenings on topical issues, complemented by a panel discussion. This iteration featured the BBC-produced documentary “Nuclear Armageddon: How Close Are We?”. Ms. Rebecca Jovin, Chief of the UNODA Vienna Office, joined the panel discussion alongside fellow panellists H.E. Ambassador Alexander Kmentt from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe and International Affairs; Ms. Elena Sokova, Executive Director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP); and Ms. Stephanie Fenkart, Director of the International Institute for Peace (IIP) to exchange with the audience on issues of interest and concern, including geopolitical dynamics and their impact on nuclear risk, achievements and challenges facing the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, and inclusivity in disarmament processes. The discussion was moderated by the Director of UNIS Vienna, Mr. Martin Nesirky.

The documentary addressed the catastrophic impact of the potential use of nuclear weapons and the possibility of such use amidst current geopolitical tensions, provoking many questions in the audience. (Photo credit: UNIS Vienna)

UNODA dedicates significant efforts to provide impactful and sustainable disarmament education for all, in this way contributing to the creation of a culture of peace and non-violence. A common framework for the Office’s disarmament education efforts was articulated in the UNODA Disarmament Education Strategy, launched in December 2022.