By: Travis Andreu and Lorena Pierres
Photographs: Lorena Pierres
Seventy years after nuclear weapons were first used, a panel at the United Nations was
held on October 16th to talk about the role of youth in future disarmament. Titled “Generation of Change: Encouraging Youth Action for Nuclear Abolition,” the discussion focused on the elimination of nuclear weapons, and panelists spoke at length about youth participation in disarmament activities, peace brokering engagements and how youth can best affect the future of disarmament.
Featuring notable guests that included Thomas Markram, Vugar Allahverdiyev, Erin Hunt and Matt De Vlieger, the panel gave an overview of youth engagement in disarmament, and how to best tackle the issue of getting young people involved in the effort. “Being apathetic is more troublesome than ignorance,” Mr. Markram said. “Disarmament efforts are crumbling; we need more youth involvement.” The panel also pointed out that the key is not to just get young people involved, but to keep them engaged. In the current state of affairs, it is easy for younger generations to quickly grow disillusioned because the current system doesn’t seem to achieve results.
“Digital diplomacy is a great start for our youth activists,” said Erin Hunt of Mines Action Canada, “They are the digital natives generation; they are the most connected generation. If we don’t utilize their fresh outlook and youthful creativity, we risk losing it and the answers it could have brought to disarmament.” She also explained that this means that the new generation expects to interact with more transparent governments and leaders as things happen, they crave truthful information, and are not easy to fool. This is beneficial for achieving long lasting change, she noted.
Youth involvement in the future of disarmament is an opportunity to bring peace to a new generation. If we let the fields of youth involvement go fallow in disarmament talks, we run the risk of losing avenues to peace that could have been paved with the potential of today.