Students and young professionals from dozens of countries recently completed eight weeks of online training on an array of disarmament-related policy tools designed to help prevent and resolve conflict.
The 135 young people were recipients of the 2020 Scholarship for Peace and Security, jointly organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) in Vienna. The participants—122 of whom were women—together represented 53 OSCE participating States and Partners for Cooperation.
The group was the third to complete the Scholarship programme, which aims to educate groups underrepresented in the field of disarmament, such as youth and women, on conflict prevention and resolution through disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, with a specific focus on OSCE-relevant instruments. The Governments of Andorra, Finland, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland generously supported the programme in 2020.
The Scholarship recipients engaged in 49 substantive, self-paced online modules covering topics from weapons of mass destruction and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons to gender aspects of conflict prevention and resolution. In an interactive online forum, the participants were able to further exchange views, learn from each other’s experiences, and engage with experienced OSCE and UNODA professionals.
To help participants get to know each other amid the challenges posed by COVID-19, the training programme was complemented by a webinar on the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament that included a presentation by the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu. Scholarship recipients also joined two get-together events where they could reflect on the training programme, meet each other virtually, and discuss how to become more engaged in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.
Scholarship participants shared feedback on the training programme during one of the online events, and their evaluations revealed four core achievements:
- After the training, the participants’ knowledge had, on average, increased by around 15% compared to before the course, with improvements exceeding 35% with regard to nuclear-weapon-free zones.
- 100% of participants said the training inspired them to become more involved in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.
- 100% of participants would recommend the Scholarship programme to others.
- Feedback on the Scholarship for Peace and Security has continuously improved since its first iteration in 2018.
“This learning experience has been intellectually provoking and so fruitful. I enjoyed it a lot.”
~ Ani Papyan, Scholarship for Peace and Security 2020
Of the 135 graduates, 50 young women will be invited to join a week-long, in-depth course in Vienna based on their engagement during the online training. This in-person training will be held when the situation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic allows.