Youth Community

Spotlight Stories
Luciana Vázquez expresses how important it was to join a group of motivated young scientists interested in biological disarmament and non-proliferation.
Luciana Vázquez#Youth4Disarmament Member
December 2018. I am planning my summer vacation like any other year. I turn on the television, and I see the headline: "Hantavirus outbreak in Southern Argentina". Hantavirus is a zoonotic disease transmitted from rodents to humans. The difference with this strain is that it is transmitted from person to person, facilitating the spread of the virus. Over the course of several days, people of all ages begin to die. As fear grips the inhabitants of the southern cities, misinformation starts to spread through the media. December 2019. It seems that the month of December is destined not to be quiet. The name “Coronavirus” begins to resonate. At the beginning, all the samples from the country were processed at the Malbran Institute in Buenos Aires, the National Reference Laboratory. Wouldn't it be easier if other laboratories over the country processed the samples as well? The answer is yes, of course. However, the necessary biosafety and biosecurity conditions to manipulate the samples and carry out the diagnoses were only found in the Malbran Institute. As the number of cases increased, reaching all Provinces, it became necessary to decentralize the diagnoses in order to have a faster response to the pandemic. There my work began.
Harshwardhansinh speaking at an EAGLE A7 launch event.
Harshwardhansinh Zala#Youth4Disarmament Member
My big turning point came in July 2015, when I saw a YouTube video about victims of antipersonnel landmines in Afghanistan. Disturbed by what I learned, I began to develop a drone I hoped could one day save lives by detonating landmines remotely. That landmine-destroying drone, an idea that started in my imagination, is now a real product with multiple patents. When I began working on it, I was 12 years old. I was just 10, though, when I built my first invention: a remote control I used to operate appliances around my home in Ahmedabad, India. My parents, recognizing my keen interest in electronics and technology, encouraged me to take my passion further.
On the day of the conference, the author (far left) poses with its youth organizers.
Aline Sauvegrain Tanabe#Youth4Disarmament Member
I took a deep breath and began reading my speech, starting from its first sentence: “Today, I am standing here as a youth who is anxious about our future. The unceasing spread of the COVID-19, the increasing poverty, climate change, the ongoing human rights abuses around the world… In the time of the deepening uncertainty, we are now also facing the rapid development of the lethal autonomous weapons system, the so-called ‘killer robot.’” It was 12 December 2020, and I was at the office of Human Rights Watch in Tokyo, attending the online Global Youth Conference on Fully Autonomous Weapons. Just like 19 other youth speakers who joined from around the world, I was speaking out, in front of my laptop, to raise the torch of hope for a better future.
Isabella Duque Muñoz reflects on her internship with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
Isabella Duque Muñoz#Youth4Disarmament Member
As a Colombian, I grew up in a nation marked by violence and armed conflict. These matters seized my interest from a very young age; learning about them felt vital to understanding my country and the factors that drive conflicts around the world. In 2016, Colombia signed a historic peace agreement and began a process of laying down arms. Witnessing these developments confirmed my passion for issues of peace, security and disarmament, as well as development in emerging countries. I wanted to get involved and make my own contribution. But when I moved to France in 2019 to pursue my master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy, I discovered that the competition for opportunities can be fierce. As I applied for internships around the world, I faced questions and concerns not just about my lack of related professional experience, but also about my status as a young Latin American woman.
Youth 4 Disarmament Member Ankita Sehgal discusses her experience interning with Peace Boat
Ankita Sehgal#Youth4Disarmament Member
On the morning of 6 August 2020, I was in Hiroshima. Sitting in the lobby of my hotel, enjoying my breakfast, I looked out of a window at the Motoyasu River. What a beautiful morning, I thought to myself. Then the wall clock suddenly caught my attention. It was 8:15 a.m.—75 years to the minute after the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Turning back to the window, I saw an ordinary airplane in the sky. My heart skipped a beat. I said to myself, “I do not want to be a hibakusha 2.0.” I remembered how the bomb had fallen towards Hiroshima for 40 seconds. In 40 seconds, it changed the course of history for Japan and the rest of the world. Observing the UN 75 Hiroshima Conference a few weeks later, I decided for myself, I will do everything I can never to let such a bombing happen again.
Chaerin Kim participating in the 2020 Youth Special Session
Chaerin Kim#Youth4Disarmament Member
The existential threat of nuclear conflict can sometimes overshadow subtler risks. For young people, especially, a lack of clear and accurate information can obscure the potentially serious implications of nuclear and other arms-related challenges for our day-to-day lives. Yet, for me, the potential consequences are too grave not to act.
Participants of the Youth Special Session
Su-Yin Lew#Youth4Disarmament Member

A flurry of greetings – “Good morning, good afternoon, good evening” –seems to be a new mainstay of the COVID-19 era, as participants in international conferences log on from time zones around the world.

Youth Champions last official training session
Christelle Barakat and Waleed HelmyYouth Champions for Disarmament

On 27 October, the 10 UN Youth Champions for Disarmament gathered online for our last official training session.

Proudly presenting the finished video to help guide high school students on key topics at the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Academic Lecture 2020: Disarmament and Peace”, held on 7 November 2020 in Seoul.
Mark Min Seong Kim UNODA/UNDPPA Northeast Asia Youth Steering Committee Member

How can we make more young people aware of the importance of disarmament?

The winners of the UN #75Words4Disarmament Youth Contest share comments with the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs after the event.
Marykate Monaghan#Youth4Disarmament Member
This year has shifted many of our lives into virtual reality. Handshakes have been replaced with emails, friendly catch-ups with cyber get-togethers, and traditional in-person exchanges with a procession of online activities. This new virtual world can feel overwhelmingly isolating at times, but another side of it emerged when the #Youth4Disarmament initiative recently celebrated the winners of its #75Words4Disarmament Youth Challenge. On 26 October, young people from around the world came together to share their thoughts and feelings about a common goal—disarmament.
Attending UNITAR in-person workshops. The topics included negotiation skills and techniques; conference diplomacy and multilateral negotiations; diplomatic protocol and etiquette; negotiating, drafting and adopting UN resolutions; and public speaking.
Veronika Leitmanova#Youth4Disarmament Member
If you’re young like me and eager to help save our planet, starting out can feel a little daunting. That is why I would like to explain how I found a job working each day for a safer and more secure world. A lot of young people want to contribute towards peace, and that passion leads us all in different directions. In my case, it led to earning a master’s degree in Strategic Studies and Energy Security—a path of study where I could explore nuclear issues, the peaceful benefits of atomic energy, and the risks of related technology being misused.
Gender and Disarmament vitual meeting photo
Palesa Mogorosi and Kirsten MoseyYouth Champions for Disarmament
They stood for thirty minutes in silence before singing "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", followed by a song for women's freedom:           Wathint' abafazi,           wathint' imbokodo, uza kufa!           (When you strike the women, you strike a rock,           you will be crushed!) This 1956 rallying call from the Women’s March in South Africa reminds us of women’s political power. But in the debate for disarmament, where are all the women?
meeting between the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and civil society advocates
Christelle Barakat and Dilan Ezgi KoçYouth Champions for Disarmament

On 14 September 2020, the UN Youth Champions for Disarmament attended a meeting between the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and civil society advocates working on many of the same issues.

Virtual meeting screenshot
Dilan Ezgi Koç and Linh Trang PhungYouth Champions for Disarmament
After watching a UN ceremony commemorating the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, the UN Youth Champions for Disarmament had a valuable opportunity to learn from two UNODA staff members about the 21st-century challenges and implications of conventional weapons, including their relationship with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. To start the discussion, Ms. Katherine Prizeman of UNODA’s Conventional Arms Branch talked about the use and risks of explosive weapons in populated areas. She also explained how the UN is responding to this issue under the Secretary-General's Agenda for Disarmament.
Screenshot of virtual meeting participants
Patrick Karekezi and Dilan Ezgi KoçYouth Champions for Disarmament

The UN Youth Champions for Disarmament recently had an opportunity to learn from two members of UNODA’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Branch. They reminded us that we can reshape the world if we work together to free it from nuclear, biological and chemical arms.

Screenshot of virtual meeting participants
Isa Begemann and Kirsten MoseyYouth Champions for Disarmament

On August 6, 2020, the world commemorated the 75th Hiroshima Day, remembering the victims of the atomic bombing of the city on August 6, 1945. To recognize the 75th anniversary, Hiroshima-ICAN Academy hosted the live webinar, “Path Forward for Nuclear Disarmament”.

Virtual Meeting of Youth Champions
Isa Begemann and Naomi EkpokiYouth Champions for Disarmament

It is not every day that one gets to talk to a retired Senior Political Affairs Officer at the UN who is also the main trumpet in the UN Symphony Orchestra! Therefore, we youth champions were looking forward to the fireside chat with Dr. Randy Rydell.

Virtual Meeting of Youth Champions
United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
Meeting virtually for the first time, the group tackled subjects ranging from new technologies and nuclear threat, to the urbanisation of conflict and the engagement of young people,  highlighted under “A New Era of Conflict and Violence”as part of the ongoing UN75 effort.

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