How can we make more young people aware of the importance of disarmament? This became a defining question for me as I led an education project for the Northeast Asia Youth Steering Committee, a group supported by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA).
In discussing the question with peers and partner organizations, I learned that a shortage of structured and interactive disarmament education programmes was one factor impeding young people’s engagement with the issue. That is why I joined other members of the student-run University of Pennsylvania Policy Consulting Group to develop a video introduction to key disarmament themes for high school and university audiences.
After three months of rigorous research, design work, and meetings with partners, we proudly presented our finished video to high school students at the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Academic Lecture 2020: Disarmament and Peace”, held on 7 November 2020 in Seoul. Our group collaborated with the Hope to Future Association to organize the event, which was also part of a lecture series for SDG Book Club Korea, a programme of United Nations Publications.
The two-part session began with our video guiding students through key issues, treaties, and developments across five themes: Weapons of Mass Destruction, Conventional Arms, Missiles, New Technology, and Future Outlook. This introductory lecture was tailored to students without any prior background, and it concluded by encouraging young people to help advance the SDGs and contribute to the #Youth4Disarmament Initiative.
In the second half of the session, Mr. Kim Won-Soo, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, shared his unique perspectives and experiences as a prominent figure in disarmament. During an engaging open discussion, he emphasized the power of sustained and creative youth action to produce critical political breakthroughs.
The live event and recorded lecture reached more than 300 Korean students from diverse backgrounds. We were especially proud to see our programme inspire several participants to consider pursuing their own disarmament projects.
Disarmament can be a complex issue. However, our project inspired us to see how young people, working together, can overcome the challenges ahead and truly “secure our common future”.
Penn Policy Consulting Group (PPC) is a nonpartisan, pre-professional student organization at the University of Pennsylvania dedicated to presenting student-led research and policy solutions for pressing issues in local, federal, and international government systems. We thank UNODA and the #Youth4Disarmament Initiative for their warm encouragement and support throughout every step of this project.