#Leaders2Future share insights to engage youth in side event of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee
On 23 October, Mr. Adedeji Ebo, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Sangjin KIM, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, joined a group of the #Leaders2Future in a side event of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee to share insights on the role of young people in advancing disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control objectives. Ms. Soo Hyun Kim, Political Affairs Officer and Youth4Disarmament lead with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA), and Ms. Marykate Monaghan, #Leaders2Future project lead, moderated the event.
With generous financial support from the Government of the Republic of Korea, the #Leaders2Future travelled to the United Nations Headquarters to share their ideas with stakeholders as part of a five-day study visit. The group met with a variety of stakeholders, including H.E. Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the 78th Session of the General Assembly, ODA staff, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, and representatives from civil society as part of the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum. The annual forum brings together different civil society organisations active in the disarmament field to share updates on specific topics and to discuss the latest emerging trends.
The group of youth advocates presented their perspectives on meaningful youth engagement and empowerment alongside distinguished speakers from the United Nations, Member States, civil society, and youth-led organisations.
Opening the side-event, Mr. Adedeji Ebo, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, emphasised the importance of meaningful youth engagement in his remarks. “These exchanges between youth – led by youth – are vital for demystifying disarmament and promoting a wider appreciation of the fact that everyone, everywhere, has a role to play in establishing a safer, more secure world for all,” he added.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Sangjin KIM, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, welcomed the innovation and creativity of young people in developing innovative approaches to address today’s challenges. Ambassador Sangjin Kim also noted the Republic of Korea’s continued commitment to ensuring young people’s meaningful participation in key discussions ongoing in the disarmament field, as national and global citizens.
Mr. Matías Andrés Eustathiou de los Santos, Vice-Chair of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, encouraged young people to persist in their efforts to build a safer, more peaceful world for all. “Work hard, dream big, and do not let anybody undermine your thoughts and ideas,” he emphasised.
As part of a panel discussion, a selection of distinguished speakers shared their insights and reflections to engage, educate and empower young people across a spectrum of topics related to disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, emerging technologies and the Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda.
Panellists included Ms. Naomi Ekpoki, Mr. Joon Baek, Ms. Lia Holla and Mr. Percy Abain as participants from the #Leaders2Future Series, with Mr. René Holbach, Political Affairs Officer with the Science and Technology Unit of ODA, Ms. Emilia Harriet Hannuksela, Team Lead, Youth, Peace, and Security at the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, and Ms. Kekhashan Basu, Founder and President of the Green Hope Foundation.
After the moderated discussion, the panel took questions and comments from the audience. The speakers were asked about avenues to effectively involve young voices, to address barriers faced by young people that prevent their meaningful participation, and ways for young people to sustain their involvement after participating in fellowships and training programmes. In response, Ms. Naomi Ekpoki emphasised the need to support activities at the grassroots level and Ms. Kekhashan Basu called for more inclusive spaces for young people to participate at all stages of decision-making.
In closing, Ms. Radha Day, Chief of the Regional Disarmament, Information and Outreach Branch, ODA, commended the side event as a reminder of the need to listen to youth and invest in the engagement and empowerment of young people, urging participants to build on the dedicated space through network-building initiatives and strengthened coordination.
Ms. Day marked the end of the event by announcing the launch of the 2nd edition of the UN Youth Champions of Disarmament Training Programme with generous support from the Government of Germany. The initiative will bring together a geographically diverse group of young disarmament advocates and enable them to share their specific regional perspectives – from Africa and Europe; Asia and the Pacific; the Americas and the Caribbean regions – and connect them to the global disarmament discourse.
The side-event provided a platform for youth voices to be heard, to inspire intergenerational solidarity and to widen space for collaboration and cross-pollination across different topics related to international peace and security.
The group of young advocates will now finalize their recommendations to advance disarmament through linkages with relevant topics, including additional workshops to explore synergies across efforts to protect the environment and safeguard human rights.
Check back to see the latest recommendations on the #Leaders2Future webpage.