In January 2019, youth from the Research Center of the United Nations and International Organizations (part of Beijing Foreign Studies University) visited the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The visit was part of the Chinese Youth Diplomatic Advanced Training Program (ATP), which the Research Center created in 2012 to train outstanding young candidates in diplomacy and international affairs. In the last year, almost 50 students visited UNODA in New York to attend training events and seminars.
During the January visit, students taking part in the ATP delegation engaged in interactive sessions with UNODA staff. The sessions focused on the Office’s work around weapons of mass destruction, cybersecurity and conventional arms. Presentations included a discussion led by Ms. Gillian Goh on frontier technologies and their challenges, including information warfare, privacy protection and illicit arms transfers on the “dark net.” Mr. Chris King, Mr. Xiaoyu Wang and Ms. Nora Allgaier gave presentations on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, as well as threats posed by chemical and biological weapons. Mr. Weifeng Hua of the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics reflected that these expert presentations provided a comprehensive overview of UNODA’s work and made disarmament more familiar and accessible.
The presentations impressed upon Ms. Siqi Yao of Nanjing Forestry University both the connection between disarmament and achieving a sustainable peace and the imperative of managing arms stockpiles and illicit arms trafficking.
While representatives of the ATP delegation came to understand the principal challenges to disarmament, they realized the importance of a world free of nuclear weapons when shown photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before and after August 1945. Mr. Zongxian Wen, a student at Northeastern University in Boston, shared that the photos shocked him and affirmed that nuclear disarmament is work that all countries in the world must carry out.
Particularly striking for Ms. Yan Long, a master’s student at King’s College London, was a briefing on annual military expenditures worldwide, which amount to $1.7 trillion—200 times larger than the peacekeeping budget of the United Nations.
Draft prepared by Jonah Glick-Unterman