SCRAPWeapons at the Youth Conference for Securing Our Common Future
Earlier this month, I had the honour of representing SCRAP and CISD at the Youth Conference for Securing Our Common Future. The conference was hosted both at the UN Headquarters in New York and on board the Peaceboat moored in the Hudson River. Peaceboat was started by a group of Japanese students as a response to the continued threat of nuclear war and is committed to providing a student voice for disarmament. This conference was taking place because the UN Secretary General has made clear in his agenda for disarmament that he is encouraging youth and student level leadership. I believe this is an opportunity for SCRAP as a student-run organisation to provide this.
Before heading to the Peaceboat, I had a chance to hear country representatives speak on their efforts to peruse disarmament. Amongst others, Guatemala voiced their disappointment that nations were pulling out of disarmament treaties and Yemen called for the international community to implement regulations on the trade of light weapons. There is certainly support in the international community that support what we are trying to achieve with the SCRAP project.
The conference then split the Secretary General’s agenda for disarmament into three sections: nuclear, small arms / light weapons and ‘killer robots’. There were speakers on these sections representing governments such as Canada, Kenya, New Zealand, as well as UN Office for Disarmament Affairs officials and other NGO representatives working at local and international levels. In meeting these experts and the other conference attendees, it was brilliant to see how many young people from around the world care and want their respective states to act on these issues. At SCRAP we can bring all these areas together and provide an opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas. We are advocating for comprehensive global weapons governance that addresses all these areas and provides a space for youth-led policy formulation.
The SCRAP coalition provides a space for these engaged young people to campaign across the board rather than in information silos. I made the argument that at SCRAP we see all these three areas as equally important and this is why we continue to push the case for general and complete disarmament through our treaty. SCRAP students have already played a key role in the development of the draft treaty, design of the website and building links with other NGOs such as Oxfam International. Dan Plesch, the director of SCRAP, has said that these ideas have been taken out of a purely academic context is the enthusiasm and determination of our student body drawn from some fifty countries. If these ideas are to become reality one day, the campaigning work of SCRAP student representatives will be key in making decision-makers listen.