Ending Nuclear Tests: why should I care? A conversation with youth.

A “Conversation with Youth – Ending Nuclear Tests: why should I care?” presented an opportunity for youth to put questions to CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo and UN High-Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo on 6 December 2016 at the Vienna International Centre, Austria.

Stressing the importance of ending nuclear tests, Zerbo acknowledged the potential that lies in the hands of today’s youth and encouraged them to participate in the conversation towards achieving global peace and security.  Zerbo mentioned that youth have become leaders of today through the power of internet and social media and that their impact on spreading the word about the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has been very noticeable during the past year.
“They [the youth] have been carrying the image and the words of the CTBT beyond what we have been doing so far.”

The conversation was moderated by the Executive Director of Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) Laura Rockwood, who opened the floor for questions. As the event was broadcast live on Facebook, the worldwide online audience also had the possibility to ask their questions through CTBTO social media channels.

UN High-Representative Kim Won-soo stated that eliminating nuclear testing is a necessary step towards eliminating nuclear weapons altogether. He further emphasized the importance of educating and empowering youth to take part in disarmament advocacy.
“Banning nuclear testing is meant as the first step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, so without banning the tests we cannot ban and eliminate nuclear weapons themselves.”

For interested young individuals, the speakers mentioned various ways to get involved in the global disarmament and non-proliferation conversation such as the CTBTO Youth Group, UN Disarmament Fellowships, independent NGOs, and also internship opportunities with the United Nations and related organizations.

Zerbo briefly explained the science behind nuclear test monitoring, mentioning how the scientific data collected by the CTBTO also has numerous benefits for civilian applications such as the detection of earthquakes and tsunamis.

The questions asked by the audience at the event as well as through Facebook and Twitter concerned such diverse topics as engaging the youth in developing countries, the role of civil society in disarmament issues, a possible nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, the control of the materials used in the production of weapons of mass destruction and a wish list to the future Secretary-General in the field of disarmament among others.

The event was organized by the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), in partnership with CTBTO, the United Nations Information Service Vienna and the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.  A video recording of the event can be accessed at: http://bit.ly/2h9YbyT