UN Youth Champions for Disarmament conclude online training with virtual ‘graduation’ ceremony
The 10 UN Youth Champions for Disarmament attended a virtual ‘graduation’ ceremony with the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, and Mr. Christoph Anton of the German Federal Foreign Office to mark the completion of their year-long online training.
In 2020, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, with generous financial support from the Government of Germany called on young people between the ages of 18 and 24 across the globe to apply for an innovative learning programme aimed at empowering them to work for disarmament in their communities. Out of 6,515 applicants from 157 countries around the world, 10 youth advocates were selected, embarking on their journey as UN Youth Champions for Disarmament.
As part of the online training programme, the UN Youth Champions participated in 12 interactive live webinars conducted by UNODA staff members, exchanged ideas with disarmament experts from think tanks, civil society organizations and the diplomatic field, and completed self-paced online courses on various issues related to disarmament and non-proliferation.
In opening remarks, Ms. Nakamitsu and Mr. Anton congratulated the 10 UN Youth Champions for Disarmament on the completion of their training, commending their hard work and active participation in the programme.
The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Nakamitsu, also highlighted the instrumental leadership of young people, like the Youth Champions, and emphasised the importance of empowering youth to facilitate their substantial and meaningfully contributions. “After all, this is the world that they will be living in, that they will be creating, and that they will be leading,” she added.
Mr. Anton noted Germany’s strong support of the UN Secretary-General’s approach to actively engage and enable young people, as outlined in his Agenda for Disarmament, and commended UNODA for facilitating the participation of youth in discussions related to disarmament through its Youth Champions for Disarmament Training Programme. “You bring in new ideas, fresh approaches and out of the box thinking into disarmament and arms control,” he emphasised.
During the ‘graduation’ ceremony, the Youth Champions reflected on their experiences and presented their project proposals, developed with the intention to engage their communities on issues related to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
Each Youth Champion expressed their gratitude to the #Youth4Disarmament initiative for the speaking engagements, educational opportunities and inspirational mentorship provided during the training programme, and highlighted the friendship formed during their experience.
“Every person from every corner of the world, with whatever interests you may have, you find your way and find your space in here to do what you are passionate about - that’s the one thing I will always value,” Ms. Palesa Mogorosi, UN Youth Champion for Disarmament from South Africa, expressed when reflecting on her experience with the UN Youth Champions for Disarmament Training Programme.
Mr. Waleed Helmy, UN Youth Champion for Disarmament from Egypt, noted that “the most important and best thing I got from this programme is the community - whether having peers like the Youth Champions or great mentors like Ms. Soo Hyun Kim and Mr. John Ennis, and a lot more from this field.”
“Thanks to the trainings, engagements with the UN officials and my cooperation and friendship with the fellow Youth Champions, I now have a better stance of what kind of career I would like to pursue and what kind of goals and purposes I would like to prioritise professionally and personally,” Dilan Ezgi Koç, UN Youth Champion for Disarmament from Turkey, noted during the online Graduation Ceremony.
Before closing, a special photo opportunity was held with the 10 UN Youth Champions for Disarmament displaying their certificates, joined by Ms. Nakamitsu and Mr. Anton to commemorate the occasion.
The UN Youth Champions for Disarmament Training Programme will now move onto its next phase, where Youth Champions will develop and implement their projects in their local communities. Once it is deemed safe to go, upon a health and security assessment, it is hoped that the UN Youth Champions will be able to embark on a study tour to a number of organisations that monitor multilateral treaties, promote scientific and technical co-operation, and verify adherence to international norms in the areas of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs remains committed in supporting the UN Youth Champions in their work for disarmament, as national and world citizens, as well as their journeys as the leaders of tomorrow.
For more on the UN Youth Champions for Disarmament, you can visit the dedicated webpage on the #Youth4Disarmament website and read the Spotlight Stories written by the Youth Champions themselves, reflecting on their experiences during the training programme.