On 1 May, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu met with non-governmental organizations at United Nations Headquarters. The discussion had a special focus on the role of youth in promoting nuclear disarmament given Action 38 on youth engagement contained within the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament, Securing Our Common Future.
As the Agenda for Disarmament recognizes, involving youth in disarmament is essential to advancing progress in this area. However, several representatives mentioned that one of the obstacles in engaging youth is often a lack of awareness regarding the educational resources available, rather than apathy. Accordingly, representatives from civil society underscored the importance of educational resources and networks that are accessible to youth worldwide. As the participants recognized, from trainings and workshops to digital resources, youth education remains an area of growth.
During the discussion, leaders from civil society organizations considered how to meaningfully involve youth during the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, including organizing an international working group on youth during the First Committee in November 2020.
Ms. Nakamitsu suggested working with the International Model United Nations Association to engage high school and university students and deepening cooperation between work on the Sustainable Development Goals and disarmament. Ms. Nakamitsu floated the idea of including a youth session at the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. In addition, High Representative Nakamitsu urged greater youth involvement in deliberations regarding frontier technologies. In such deliberations, youth bring unique expertise and familiarity with these new technologies, which are second nature to this generation.
Drafted by Jonah Glick-Unterman and Trine Pejstrup