UNODA Update

UNODA in Geneva promotes disarmament education

At any of the locations where the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) has offices, New York, Geneva, Vienna, Lomé. Lima or Kathmandu, UNODA staff regularly brief groups of students on disarmament matters. Briefings are usually to college or graduate school students, but also include presentations to younger grades.

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UNODA in Geneva promotes disarmament education
UNODA in Geneva promotes disarmament education

On 11 June 2013, UNODA staff in Geneva met with a delegation of students from the Anglo European School in Essex, UK. The students were visiting the United Nations Office in Geneva and had expressed a particular interest in learning about disarmament and the work of UNODA. Accompanied by their Headmaster Mr. David Barrs and his colleague, Ms. Jo Follet, they were briefed by Mr. Richard Lennane, Head of the Implementation Support Unit of the Biological Weapons Convention on the Biological Weapons Conventio]]n itself and by Ms. Silvia Mercogliano, Political Affairs Officer, on the Conference on Disarmament.

The students then attended the plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), which on that day was particularly interesting as it was devoted to a discussion among States on how to revitalize the Conference. The CD was established by the General Assembly as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.

After attending the plenary, one of the students said, "It was amazing to see the people behind the scenes and actually see work put in action as well. " While a member of the faculty commented, "Visiting the UN was an opportunity for our young people to see how the world works, observing the CD helped them understand the challenges involved in making the world a better place."

The Anglo European School has a strong international focus. It was the first State school in Britain to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, in 1977. All students in the school study at least two languages to age 16. Also, with partner schools in China, India, Germany, Spain, Italy and France, each year 600 -700 of the Anglo European School's 1400 students take part in family exchanges, some for up to 2 months.

In addition to providing briefings to students, UNODA promotes disarmament and non-proliferation education though its website "Disarmament education: resources for learning." There, students can access publications, films and recorded podcast interviews in which experts talk about present-day disarmament issues. There is also a link to the UN Cyberschoolbus disarmament portal which provides a wealth of classroom resources for teachers and students from late middle school to early college. Lesson plans at the portal cover nuclear weapons, small arms and light weapons, and landmines.