Apr 1, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Changes Everything

COVID-19 Pandemic Changes Everything -

giving the world a warning of what we face if climate and nuclear weapons issues aren’t seriously addressed

By Chuck Johnson, IPPNW Program Director & Molly McGinty, IPPNW Program Associate

On behalf of the Youth Empowerment to Prevent Extinction (YEPE) team, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), PEAC Institute, and Physicians for Social Responsibility – New York (PSRNY), thank you for your continued support of this important project! As you know, the goal of YEPE is to mobilize young people in the work of combating the dual threats of the climate crisis and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. 

Since the creation of YEPE, and despite the global curve ball thrown at everyone by the rapid spread of COVID-19 pandemic, we have made strides in making this goal a reality.  In some ways, this pandemic has given the world a taste of the kind of chaos we can expect in the future if we do not attend to global issues great and small and cease wasting lives and effort in counterproductive activities. 

Please see the excellent graphic below from our colleagues at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), illustrating the catastrophically bad choices being made by the United States, which is representative of similar figures for nuclear weapons states throughout the world.

World Conference 2020 canceled – moved to video conferences

YEPE was and is a key partner in planning the World Conference 2020: Youth Assembly previously scheduled for the first day of the World Conference to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; Resist and Reverse the Climate Crisis; For Social and Economic Justice

The conference was scheduled to take place from April 24-26, 2020 at historic Riverside Church in New York, on the eve of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Conference (NPT RevCon) at the United Nations headquarters.  Since the NPT RevCon and the in-person pre-conferences are now canceled due to COVID-19, we are making new arrangements for a series of interactive video-conferences.  Dates, times, and agendas for these video-conferences will be announced very soon.  We are also, tentatively planning, COVID-19 willing, to hold the in-person conferences before next year’s rescheduled NPT RevCon.

The many hours we have put in since October, planning and conducting outreach for the Youth Assembly, have been productive in developing strong working relationships with New York Peace Action and its network of 22 campus chapters, Buddhist peace organization Soka Gakkai International, and the New York office of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, whose staff is experienced, as a partner with IPPNW and PEAC Institute, in arranging for international conferences on nuclear weapons and war aimed at young people.  Our most recent collaboration was in arranging for a group of fifteen young people from New York and Boston to attend ICAN’s Paris Youth Forum on February 14-15, 2020.

Participation of Boston-based university students was organized by former IPPNW Quaker Voluntary Service Fellow Eust Eustis, who remains active in helping organize campus follow up activity with the leaders who attended the Paris Forum as the nucleus of campus activity going forward.  We anticipate growing collaboration in both Boston and New York, with our YEPE partners, focusing on the intersection of climate, justice, and nuclear weapons issues and the imperative in addressing them as illustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young people get it:  these global problems are linked

When the immediate chaos subsides, we plan to resume working with ICAN in following up on its  Schools of Mass Destruction report, for which events planned for April of this year in Boston and elsewhere in the US have been temporarily delayed.  We see great promise in the intersection of efforts to get universities to cease assisting and investing in nuclear weapons development and production, as part of an existing effort to end investment in climate-disrupting fossil fuel production.  Our experience is that young people who understand the climate threat, easily grasp and embrace the severity of the threat of nuclear weapons when they have the facts presented to them.  We look forward to seeing what creative ideas and campaigns they will create in the coming years as we continue to pursue this critical project.

Your contribution directly assisted in getting YEPE off the ground this year. We would not have been able to put as much time and resources into this event if it wasn't for your generous support.  Thank you, again! We will follow up in future reports, regarding the success of the on-line Youth Assembly and other YEPE projects going forward.

Links:

Feb 25, 2020

Progress so far

Gina at Chupie FM holding radio mascot
Gina at Chupie FM holding radio mascot

This event is currently hampered by obstacles - despite receiving an endorsement letter from Mayor for Peace Kazumi Matsui encouraging funders and the residents of Hiroshima to do all they can to help, funding has been slow. Also, Japan is at serious risk to the coronavirus and is cancelling meetings and events left, right and centre with the possibility that even the Tokyo Olympics might have to be cancelled. 

Undaunted, Gina Langton after a 7-day visit to Los Angeles (same week Kobe Bryant died) to raise interest is now in Hiroshima staying for one month pursuing all possibilities there talking to as many people as possible to raise interest including members of the Rotary Club and other senior business leaders. 

There is still work to be done to get the urgent message of the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons out of Hiroshima.  Gina spoke about the project on local Chupie FM radio on 18th February and will be interviewed for the Chugoku Shimbun on 26th February.

Positive is the fact that 80,000 Voices project is a local event - a low carbon footprint with global reach as it involves mass international youth engagement via the internet rather than on the ground. 

At a time of great crisis, this project is potentially more viable than most other plans that involve large numbers of footfall travelling from other countries.

80,000 Voices' world-class team headed up by creative producer David Zolkwer is still on standby and ready to leap into action as soon as funding comes in. 

We're keeping on going!  Thank you for all your support!

Producer at Chupie FM
Producer at Chupie FM
With Hiroshima supporters of 80,000 project
With Hiroshima supporters of 80,000 project
Gina with Rotary Club member Hiro Suwa
Gina with Rotary Club member Hiro Suwa
Jan 2, 2020

Reflecting on 2019 while looking to 2020

This year has flown by! I'm excited to share what we've been up to and our plans for next year. Very honored and proud to share our newest board member is Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins. Ambassador Jenkins comes with 10+ years of experience in the US government, specifically in the area of WMDs. To see her full bio click here!

With the addition of Ambassador Jenkins, we are looking to broaden our reach and capabilities in regard to policymaking. We have been working with our partners and have also been asked to join a number of committees and working groups at the UN. This is a very exciting development for PEAC. Having the ability to push revolutionary love and heart-centered leadership at some of the highest levels of government and foreign policy is at the heart of why PEAC was created. It's a very exciting and proud moment for PEAC. I am beyond grateful for all your support and encouragement along the way. We could not have made it this far without you! 

Through the Survivor's Appeal | Hibakusha Appeal we have also been making inroads with other groups and organizations. PEAC was asked to speak at The Busan Democracy Forum in Busan, Korea this past October. We presented our empathy-building curriculum based on the sorties of survivors from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. It was very well received and as we do everywhere we go, we pushed people to sign the appeal. We have a good partnership with the groups in Korea working on reunification and will be back in February 2020 to continue the work. Through this conference, we connected with the UN75 committee and are now working on the 75th-anniversary events. We have proposed there be a deeper connection to nuclear abolition establish - especially as the preamble to the UN states "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." We are currently working on this with the committee and this too has been very well received. 

Looking to 2020 and our project, called Youth Empowerment to Prevent Extinction (YEPE), is a collaboration with the Nobel Prize-winning organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, IPPNW and their sister organization, New York Physicians for Social Responsibility. Our first major event is coming in 2020 YEPE is playing a key role in planning the youth track for the World Conference to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; Resist and Reverse the Climate Crisis; For Social and Economic Justice. The conference will take place from April 24-26, 2020 at historic Riverside Church in New York, on the eve of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Conference. This conference will educate hundreds of youth activists and focus attention on the twin existential threats of nuclear war and climate change. The youth activists will leave the conference with new information, realistic goals, and life-long connections to continue their work to combat these threats. Here's a note from the conference organizers: 

 

"The World Conference will provide a timely opportunity to sound the alarm and to inspire popular movements and sympathetic governments to address the challenges, posed by growing dangers of nuclear war, the climate crisis and the racism, repressions and · inequalities spurred by authoritarian, militarist and oligarchic governments. Racism, other forms of hate and growing economic inequality, driven in part by the rise of authoritarian governments, truncate the lives and hopes of people across the planet. The World Conference will provide a unique opportunity for the world’s nuclear disarmament campaigns, allied movements, and organizations, and diplomats committed to banning and eliminating nuclear weapons to amplify our abolition demands to the Review Conference. Making links to climate and social and economic justice movements offers a new opportunity to develop the alliances and intersectional movements we will need to prevail. Our events will include: • A World Conference against A- & H- Bombs held at a suitable site in Manhattan • A rally and march to the United Nations • Presentation of millions of petition signatures calling for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons to the NPT Review Conference • Self-organized youth event"

We are very excited about this new project and partnership. We hope you will follow us on this journey! 

Have a blessed and wonderful NEW YEAR. Here's to clear vision in 2020!

 
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