‘The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell’ Dag Hammarskjöld, 2nd Secretary-General to the UN
These words felt truer on Monday when I spent my morning at the United Nations Headquarters alongside ten other young global leaders. The International Day Against Nuclear Testing is marked every year on 29 August in honor of the day the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Testing Site in Kazakhstan was closed. This day aims to raise awareness of the consequences of nuclear testing.
Now you know I am an enthusiast of the Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) Agenda. It has been the core of my writing since I began my activism. I shared my recommendations with Member States at the UN Security Council in 2019. My experience has been mainly on the four pillars; Participation, Protection, Prevention, and Partnerships. Although not directly mentioned in the UN Security Council Resolutions on YPS, disarmament is critical for its full implementation. Besides, disarmament informs the UN’s core mandate to maintain international security.
There can be no peace in a highly militarized and weaponized world. Nuclear testing has slowed development progress through its physical, psychological, and environmental effects on affected communities. Although the current generation was not alive during Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan or the Bravo Test in Marshall Islands, their realities continue to expose the deep wounds of injustice, pain, and grief. The impact continues to be felt by young people in these countries who are 3rd and 4th generations of the immediate victims.
This is why the discussion on Disarmament is crucial for young people to engage in. So important that the UN Secretary-General, in his Agenda for Disarmament, issued in May 2018, committed the Office for Disarmament Affairs to further invest in disarmament education, including through the establishment of a platform for youth engagement, now referred to as the #Youth4Disarmament Initiative.
The Youth4Disarmament initiative connects young people of diverse backgrounds with experts to learn about international security, the work of the UN, and how they can be involved. For the International Day Against Nuclear Testing, the UN Office for Disarmament and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan hosted us for a tour of the United Nations headquarters that included;
An exhibition by Nihon Hidankyo at United Nations Headquarters entitled “Three-Quarters of a Century After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Hibakusha—Brave Survivors Working for a Nuclear-Free World”
A tour of the United Nations to learn about the history and work of the United Nations
Briefing on the history of the International Day against Nuclear Tests and the efforts of Kazakhstan to raise awareness of the consequences of nuclear testing by Mr. Zhangeldy Syrymbet, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations
An In-person event organized by the UN Office for Disarmament featured opening remarks by Ms. Radha Day, UNODA, youth experts working in the field of nuclear disarmament and Mr. Michael Douglas, UN Messenger of Peace.
Images courtesy of UNODA
I learned so much about disarmament and will personally commit to including these new insights into my Youth, Peace, and Security advocacy. Remember, you, too, can get involved in building peace in your community and worldwide. To learn more, check out the Youth4Disarmament website. For other opportunities to participate in advocacy or networking events with multi-stakeholders, kindly check out this list I am curating and updating regularly.
Until next time, I leave you with this quote by Ronald Reagan to reflect on,
‘Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.’