United Nations representatives, students and teachers from the United Nations International School were among the attendees at the book launch for Action for Disarmament: 10 Things You Can Do! on April 15, 2014. This book offers practical activities and actions for high school and early-college students to join in the United Nations’ goal to achieve global disarmament. Speakers in attendance included Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, and Ahmad Alhendawi, Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth.
The book launch began with academy award winner, producer and actor Michael Douglas encouraging the youth in attendance “to take a role and be the new leaders of change.” Mr. Douglas spoke about how his father’s home country of Belarus had suffered great damage due to the Chernobyl disaster, the 1986 nuclear plant explosion and fire; and of his own personal experiences growing up in NYC, where as a child he participated in fire drills aimed to teach him how to act in case of a nuclear attack.
The authors, disarmament educator and activist Kathleen Sullivan along with Peter Lucas, gave books as prizes to students in the audience who were able to answer nuclear-related questions such as “What is the original purpose of hip hop?” “How many women have been Secretary-General?” and “How did the bikini bathing suit get its name?” The responses: hip hop’s original purpose was to take violence from the streets and turn it into a rhythmic discussion, there have been zero female UN secretary generals, and the bikini was named after the US’ Bikini Atomic Experiments in the Marshall Islands.
As part of the event, there was a short film from Colombia showing how musician Cesar Lopez and maestro Alberto Paredes were involved in the project La Escopetera, which aims to use music as a healing force by turning weapons like AK47 assault riffles into guitars, and reaching out to former Colombian child soldiers with a message of music as a tool for peace.
Three students from the United Nations International School closed the book launch with a Disarmament Rap telling us “Bombs are dangerous, disarmament is the way to go. Spread this world & let the entire world know!”
Lesson plans and teaching tools for disarmament can be found at http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/dnp/ and the book is now available at http://www.un.org/disarmament/publications/more/action-for-disarmament/