On Friday 30 January 2015, two representatives of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) participated at the information fair of the 16th Conference of the Committee on Teaching about the United Nations (CTAUN) for the second consecutive year. This year’s Conference focussed on the achievements of the United Nations since the signing of its founding Charter in 1945, throughout its growth from an organisation of 51 member states to an organisation of 193 member states over the past seventy years. The Conference also addressed the future of the United Nations and invited educators and students from around the United States to consider how they could contribute to “making a difference” to the many concerns faced by today’s global community.
UNODA’s attendance at this year’s Conference is noteworthy: not only does 2015 herald the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, it also marks seventy years since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For UNODA, whose mandate includes nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the coincidence of these two anniversaries is an important reminder of the ongoing need for education about disarmament matters. In this way, UNODA shares CTAUN’s vision of promoting education so as to equip future generations to seek to resolve conflict through diplomacy rather than with violence and weapons.
Friday’s conference attracted over four hundred elementary, secondary and tertiary educators and university students from a diverse range of fields. UNODA enjoyed this unique opportunity to promote understanding and awareness of disarmament by engaging in discussions with Conference participants. Informational material was also distributed, including our instructive book, “Disarmament: a Basic Guide for Students”, fact-sheets on various subjects such as disarmament and non proliferation education, humanitarian approaches to disarmament and gender perspectives on disarmament and arms control, and bookmarks that provide a link to the wealth of teaching materials on the disarmament education website.
Text and main photo by Sarah McIntosh, February 2015. Additional photo by CTAUN.