The following article was published on 23 June 2017 on the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe website: http://unric.org/en/latest-un-buzz/30605-youth-and-the-un-nuclear-ban-negotiations

23 June 2017 – The United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Eliminationtakes place in New York from 15 June to 7 July. We caught up with Leah Murphy, a young Irish woman who was in attendance at the negotiations with Amplify, to learn more about youth involvement in these negotiations.

Leah, what exactly is Amplify and how are you involved?

UNNB 2Amplify is an international network of younger leaders in the field of nuclear abolition. Our network is uniting youth from all over the world, representing different NGOs and individuals. Our common goal is to amplify and strengthen the call for complete nuclear abolition. From 16 June to 21 June, I was chosen as one of 16 youth delegates from 13 countries to be involved in the Amplify Youth Summit.

 

What did you get up to at the Summit?

So much! We had a busy schedule from start to finish.

On the 17 June we participated in the New York Women’s March to Ban the Bomb, with 4 members of our delegation taking to the podium.

We attended the plenary sessions and several side events within UNHQ. We submitted our working paper to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, which is available online [here]. We got to meet the president of the negotiations, H.E. Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, and discuss key issues such as youth involvement in the negotiations and disarmament education. Continue reading Youth and the UN Nuclear Ban Negotiations

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Amplify Youth Network with Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, President of the United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination

Sixteen youth from 13 countries gathered for the Amplify Youth Summit for Nuclear Abolition that took place from 17–21 June. Amplify is a global network of young people working for nuclear abolition. We believe that the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination offers an opportunity for the international community to finally say that nuclear weapons are unacceptable. These weapons do not belong in our society now and they have no place in our future.

For these reasons, Amplify organized the Youth Summit in New York on the margins of the negotiating conference. Throughout the Summit our delegates were involved in a wide range of activities, which allowed us to provide a youthful perspective to the negotiations. Highlights of our five-day summit included co-organizing sign-making and pizza party along with the youth of Peace Action New York State and Gensuikyo; participating in the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb through the rain storm; meeting the Hibakusha; and hosting a Youth Reception for Nuclear Abolition supported by 10 co-sponsor organizations. We also had briefing meetings with the President of the Conference Ambassador Elaine Whyte Gomez, Austria, Ireland, Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, and ICAN.

Continue reading AMPLIFYING YOUTH VOICES AND OUR CALL FOR DISARMAMENT EDUCATION

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Amplify members Selma (left), Hayley and Sole (right) with other youth campaigners at the negotiation conference. Photo credit: Clare Conboy.

Seven members of Amplify joined the UN conference to negotiate a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons on 27-31 March 2017 in New York.  We engaged in a wide variety of campaign activities, including meeting with government delegations, partaking in public actions, creating and promoting social media posts, monitoring the discussions, etc.

Prior to the conference, Amplify submitted a working paper entitled “Youth and Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations: A Voice to be Heard” (submitted by Nuclear Age Peace Foundation on behalf of Amplify).

Amplify also had an opportunity to deliver statement on Wednesday, 29 March during the discussion on Topic 2: Core prohibitions.  You can watch the statement on our Facebook page.

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A group of 30 young people from 23 countries met in Hiroshima in August 2015 to work together for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In August, 2015, thirty youth leaders from twenty-three countries met in Hiroshima in the hopes of strengthening solidarity and making a breakthrough toward ridding the world of nuclear weapons. We held the International Youth Summit for Nuclear Abolition over three days which culminated in a Youth Pledge, and a year-long action plan to collaborate to abolish nukes. Since then, we’ve continued to collaborate under the banner of ‘Amplify: Generation of Change’, and have taken many actions globally, toward our cause.

When we initially heard that President Obama would become the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima, we hoped that it would signify a change or at least be a reflective experience. That it was. But the American President left out the most important part– he failed to offer any concrete plan to reduce the US nuclear arsenal, which is the largest in the world.

Like President Obama, about 9 months ago, we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and like many before us, laid a wreath in remembrance. Like President Obama, we had the chance to meet with resilient Hibakusha (a-bomb survivors) who have dedicated the rest of their days to world peace.

Unlike President Obama, we do not have the authority to announce a dramatic reduction in the nuclear weapons or a u-turn on the United States’ plan to invest over $1 trillion in “modernizing” its nuclear arsenal over the next three decades. If we could, we would, without a doubt, because we believe that actions speak louder than words on nuclear policy and securing a peaceful tomorrow.

In the last year, we, youth activists from around the world, have witnessed first-hand the failure of international players, including the United States, to fulfill their existing nuclear disarmament obligations, despite existing mandates by international law. Many of us who were part of the International Youth Summit to Abolish Nuclear Weapons have participated directly in and around global efforts like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the First Committee meetings on Disarmament and International Security, the Marshall Islands International Court of Justice cases, and the Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament, where the U.S. leaders clearly and repeatedly demonstrated a lack of willingness to move forward in nuclear disarmament discussions.

Today, in Hiroshima, the President said: “[A]mong those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them… We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles.”

But among the many important points and references he made, President Obama did not lay out any plan or proposal for disarmament. Why not?

If one thing isn’t obvious in today’s global climate, let us be perfectly blunt: young people are beyond tired of empty promises and nice words without the action or political will to back them up. If President Obama wants to make his final months meaningful, he must immediately and unilaterally take steps to reduce the US’s nuclear arsenal, which threatens all life on earth, while encouraging other nuclear powers to do the same. Without concrete signs of progress on nuclear abolition, the President’s trip to Hiroshima seems like mere political theater, like we have seen many times before, by many different world leaders. We simply don’t have the patience for lip service or macabre legacy tour.

We are glad that President Obama took our call to attend Peace Memorial Park, to meet with Hibakusha, and to recognize the atrocities of the past and the suffering of victims. Unfortunately, he failed to take action on what should have been the most important part of his visit and speech; to declare concrete and measurable steps that would guarantee a future where impending nuclear winter is no longer a threat. Calling for nuclear disarmament while planning to spend $1TRILLION on “upgrading” the US nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years is hypocritical and extends the danger that nuclear warheads already pose, to future generations.

Today, the President acknowledged the horrors caused by the US-Atomic-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the learning that has come from it. But that is not enough. We will not take his calls seriously until we see that the US is working earnestly to ensure that these tragedies can never happen again. Younger and future generations are the biggest stakeholders in nuclear abolition will not stand by and allow President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima to be another missed opportunity, where lofty language casts a tall shadow of cynicism over the truth on the ground.

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Amplify at the UN OEWG

launch  Selma

In May, representatives of Amplify attended the second session of the open-ended working group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. There Amplify members engaged in a wide range of activities.

Highlights of the activities in Geneva include:

  • Official launch of Amplify at the welcome reception on April 30 (co-sponsored by ICAN and NGO Committee for Disarmament, Geneva)
  • On Wednesday 4 May, Setsuko Thurlow gave a moving testimony to at the plenary session of the OEWG. As part of her testimony she spoke about the hundreds of friends she lost on that fateful day at in Hiroshima at her all girls’ school, during which she referenced a visual aid that she had created in order to remember and honor her friends. Amplify members supported Setsuko by holding up the display so that all OEWG delegates could view it.
  • Prior to the commencement of the OEWG, a group of steering committee members drafted the Amplify working paper and it was submitted to the OEWG secretariat.  On Wednesday 11 May it was made into an official UN document: WP NGO 26.
  • On Wednesday 11 May Amplify members were invited to have a dialogue with Michael Douglas and UN ODA High Representative Mr. Kim Won-Soo on nuclear disarmament issues and civil society efforts. During the meeting we were able to share the purpose of Amplify, its goals, strategy and objectives. We were also able to stress the importance of ‘meaningful’ youth participation in nuclear disarmament discussions.
  • On Thursday 12 May, during Panel VI “On other measures that could contribute to taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” Amplify members listened intently to the session and drafted a statement. It was delivered by Selma van Oostwaard, one of Amplify’s co-chairs.
  • On Thursday 12 May, Alex, a steering committee member, gave a 5-minute presentation on the International Youth Summit and it’s culmination into Amplify at the “Global support and political will for nuclear disarmament” side event held at the OEWG.
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The Youth Summit and the Youth Pledge for Nuclear Abolition have been nominated for the One Billion Acts of Peace 2016 Hero Award in the Up and Coming Peacemaker category.

One Billion Acts of Peace is a UN supported Peace Initiative with the goal of creating ONE BILLION acts of Peace worldwide by 2019. The campaign is lead by 13 Nobel Prize Laureates, including The Dali Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

You can support this nomination by voting online for the project. Voting will continue through Thursday, May 12th, 2016, and you can vote once a day – look for it under the Up and Coming Peacemaker category.  Winners in each category will be notified on or before Monday, May 16th, 2016.

 

Vote for “Generation of Change: A Youth Pledge for Nuclear Abolition”

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