We are very excited to provide you with a report about our activities related to activating frontline communities. In August 2022, we brought a group of Marshallese youth to the NPT Review Conference at UN HQ. We would like to thank our colleagues at both the Marshallese Educational Initiative and ANA for helping us.
In August, we convened a special youth orientation for the NPT Review Conference. To kick-off their month-long advocacy work at the NPT Review Conference, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Reverse The Trend, Marshallese Educational Initiative, Peace Boat US, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Peace Action New York State, Youth for the TPNW, and The Prospect Hill Foundation convened the "NPT Youth Convergence: An International Youth Orientation."
Activists, experts, and states discussed intersectional issues related to nuclear disarmament, including the climate crisis, racism, colonialism, and the important role of gender politics within the discourse of nuclear weapons. We are very grateful to Dr. Hughes of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Audrey, Peter, and Sajani of RTT; McGlone of Peace Boat US; Owens of PSR; Faines of Global Zero; Benetick Kabua Maddison and John of the Marshallese Educational Initiative; Dr. Intondi of the Institute for Race, Justice, and Civic Engagement at Montgomery College; McGinty of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; Sakuma of Hiroshima Hidankyo; and H.E. Ambassador Tito of Kiribati for speaking at this event.
At the NPT Review Conference, Benetick Kabua Maddison the Executive Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative and Adviser of Reverse The Trend; and Takahashi, Co-Founder of Know Nukes Tokyo and Adviser of RTT, delivered the International Youth Statement. They explained to the states parties that "as inheritors of this planet, we demand not only that you heed our call, but that you act and free us from the anguish wrought by the nuclear threat. We do not want to live in fearful uncertainty any longer." Moreover, they underscored that "if the states parties refuse to consider the past or look towards the future, then we implore you, the delegates, to consider yourselves: is this the world you wish to build? Is this the legacy you wish to leave behind? Will your nations remember you as deliverers of hope and peace, or executioners of violence and oppression? Will this moment be immortalized in history books as one of progress or selfish inaction?"
Building upon the core message of the International Youth Statement on the need for the states parties to take action on nuclear disarmament, the Permanent Mission of Kiribati, Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Reverse The Trend, Marshallese Educational Initiative, and The Prospect Hill Foundation convened a side event entitled "Hope for a Better Tomorrow: Reflections on the Twin Existential Threats." The speakers included: H.E. Ambassador Tito, Permanent Representative of Kiribati; H.E. Ambassador Ilyassov, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan; Maddison, Executive Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative and Adviser to Reverse The Trend; and Sanders-Zakre, Policy and Research Coordinator at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Following our activities at the NPT Review Conference, Maddison traveled back to New York for the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. He delivered powerful remarks at a international youth workshop at the UN as well as a High Level Meeting at the UN General Assembly.
After our momentous August and September events, we convened two workshops on nuclear disarmament education in October. One of them focused on humanitarian disarmament education and the other one focused on youth advocacy in the field of nuclear disarmament.
Finally, we are working hard on submitting “A Journey Home," our first documentary to various film festivals. We are pleased that it has been accepted to several film festivals. We will be discussing the developments around the first documentary in our next update.
Thank you for supporting us!
- Christian N. Ciobanu, Project Coordinator, Reverse The Trend: Save Our People, Save Our Planet
A lot has happpened since the last report.
We had the privilege of attending three momentous conferences pertaining to the twin existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate change, most notably the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW. At these conferences, our youth were predominantly tasked with updating the RTT social media by live tweeting and curating Instagram posts as well as assisting Christian and Danielle with preparations for side events. These events included “Addressing Victim Assistance, Environmental Remediation, and International Cooperation in Accordance with the TPNW Articles 6 & 7" and “The Pacific Bure: Sheltering Our Homes and People From Nuclear Threats.”
On June 17th, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Reverse The Trend: Save Our People, Save Our Planet, and the Embassy of Ireland convened a Youth Orientation at the Irish Embassy in Vienna. This Orientation was aimed to prepare the RTT Vienna Youth Activism Team and additional youth activists to attend Nuclear Ban Week and give them the opportunity to engage with pressing intersectional issues related to the twin existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate justice. We were fortunate to have a fantastic array of speakers present at the Orientation, including: H.E. Ambassador Eoin O'Leary of Ireland; Daniel Roethlin of Austria; Marco Negrete Jimenez of Mexico; Seth Shelden of ICAN; Veronique Christory of the ICRC; Sueichi Kido and Leshima Masashi, two representatives of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations; Dr. Vincent Intondi of the Institute for Race, Justice, and Civic Engagement at Montgomery College; Edwick Madzimure of WILPF Zimbabwe; and NAPF President Dr. Ivana Nikolic Hughes. The Youth Orientation was a success, and the youth reported that the speakers inspired and equipped them for the week ahead!
Several of our youth coordinators also directly contributed their voices to these important conferences. The wonderful Rooj Ali spoke powerfully at "ICAN get my city's support," a workshop at the ICAN Nuclear Ban Forum centered on connecting activists at the local level to build up the stigma against nuclear weapons and build the movement to resist them. She eloquently shared parts of her experience of getting her own city — Winnipeg, Canada — to sign the ICAN Cities Appeal in the hopes of helping others to do the same in their own cities. We are all very proud of Rooj!
The incredible Benetick Kabua Maddison, RTT Advisor and Assistant Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, also shared his personal story and searing insights on the nuclear disarmament movement at several events throughout the week. At the ICAN workshop "My story is more than my picture" on Sunday, June 19th, Benetick joined Mary Dickson and Janene Yazzie, two fellow nuclear disarmament activists who are advocates for radiation-exposed individuals and their respected commun, in discussing how campaigners can engage more meaningfully and respectfully with those impacted by nuclear weapons production, testing, and use.
Later that day, Benetick introduced "A Journey Home," a powerful animated film he played an instrumental role in creating, based on the poem of the same name written by six Marshallese students — ranging from high school to undergraduate age — living in Springdale, Arkansas and reflecting on the many meanings of home: as Arkansas, as the Marshall Islands, and as Earth that needs to be protected and cultivated for the next generation. This film was a colorful and heart-rending testament to the devastating humanitarian and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons use and testing on the Marshall Islands, and Benetick's introduction rendered it all the more poignant.
We were all awed by Benetick's eloquence and his powerful words about nuclear weapons use and testing and climate change as mechanisms of "cultural genocide."
The momentum continued as the RTT Vienna Youth Activism Team attended the highly anticipated First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW, an historic event in which the Team was thrilled to participate. For instance, several of our representatives spoke at at the side event "Addressing Victim Assistance, Environmental Remediation, and International Cooperation in Accordance with the TPNW's Articles 6 & 7." Both Christian N. Ciobanu and Benetick Kabua Maddison discussed the importance of adequately implementing the positive obligations of the TPNW alongside Alimzhan Akhmetov, Founder and Director of the Centre for International Security and Policy; Kairat Sarzhanov, the Director of the Department of International Security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan; Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard's International Human Rights Clinic; Erlan Batyrbekov, the Director of the National Nuclear Centre of Kazakhstan; Karipek Kuyukov, a survivor of the nuclear testing in Semipalatinsk and an artist; Dmitriy Vesselov, a Semipalatinsk nuclear-testing survivor; Dr. Ivana Nikolic Hughes, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; H.E. Teburoro Tito, the Permanent Representative of Kiribati to the United Nations; Hirotsugu Terasaki, the Executive Director of Peace Affairs at Soka Gakkai International; and Rebecca Jovin, the Chief of the UNODA Vienna Office. This side event was a success and illuminated a myriad of important perspectives on Articles 6 & 7 of the TPNW and the importance of centering the positive obligations in discussions about the TPNW.
Additionally, Reverse The Trend had the opportunity to co-host a side event alongside yDISARM for a better future, RTT Pacific, ICAN Australia, NAPF, MISA4thePacific, MEI, USPSA, Peace Movement Aotearoa, USP Human Rights Alumni, and the Mission of Kiribati entitled "The Pacific Bure: Sheltering Our Homes and People From Nuclear Threats." During this Pacific-centric discussion of the TPNW and the broader nuclear threat, speakers explored the concept of "bure," or home, and illuminated how Pacific organizations are banding together to shelter their people from nuclear threats. Time was also set aside to showcase paintings and other types of artwork created by Marshallese youth exploring the topics of nuclear testing and climate change in the Marshall Islands. This colorful and heartfelt artistic display proved profoundly moving and is depicted in the above photograph from the event.Moreover, Marcina Langrine of the Marshallese Educational Initiative amazed us all when she gave the Youth Statement at the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW alongside Alice Filiberto in which they called upon those present to "recognize the importance of youth empowerment in further universalizing the TPNW." The Youth Statement was a success and powerfully stressed the necessity of centering and amplifying youth voices — namely the voices of youth from marginalized communities — in efforts to more effectively implement the TPNW. Marcina spoke beautifully, and we are all very proud of her accomplishments!
RTT youth participants and coordinators alike were struck by the week's events in more ways than one. Almost all participants reported feeling inspired and expressed that they left Vienna imbued with a newfound hope in the feasibility of achieving global nuclear abolition. The sheer number of people in attendance at the Nuclear Ban Week impressed numerous youth and coordinators, including Danielle Samler and Christian Ciobanu.
RTT Coordinators Christian Ciobanu and Danielle Samler shared the following eloquent reflections regarding the Nuclear Ban Week: "It was truly inspiring to see so many people in attendance for Nuclear Ban Week. Especially with the pandemic, the last couple of years there has not been much physical interaction among civil society and diplomats alike and it can be easy to forget just how many of us there are fighting for the same cause and working together towards a nuclear free world. Seeing so many people there in full support and hearing about the incredible work everyone has been doing was truly moving. It gave me hope that one day we will be able to achieve our goal, but we will only be able to do it together."
Marcina Langrine of the Marshallese Educational Initiative felt similarly, stating that "being part of 1MSP/the Nuclear Ban Forum experience left me feeling inspired, energized, and hopeful. Being in a space with 600 individuals from all different parts of the world with one goal in mind, a world without nuclear weapons, was such an experience. (...) We're only going to get stronger from here."
In the wake of this successful week in Vienna, we already looking towards August, when the Tenth NPT Review Conference will take place in New York and which several of our coordinators and youth will be attending. The path to achieving nuclear abolition is in no way linear, but with the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and a strong outcome document, the future looks bright.
Thank you for everything and please continue your support!
Christian Ciobanu and Danielle Samler
We would like to thank you for your amazing support. Since we last corresponded, RTT convened a significant seminar entitled "Empowering First Nations and Indigenous Communities: Overcoming the Ecological and Humanitarian Threats of the Nuclear Fuel Trajectory and Nuclear Weapons." Speakers included: Benetick Kabua Maddison, Assistant Director and Project Specialist for Youth, Climate, and Nuclear Issues at the Marshallese Educational Initiative; Esther Yazzie-Lewis, an elder from the Navajo First Nation; Peyton Pitawanakwat, a community member of the Mississauga First Nation; Dr. Katlyn Turner, Director for the Antiracism Design and Technology Initiative of the MIT Media Lab; and Prerna Gupta, a PhD Student at the University of British Columbia. The co-sponsors were the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Pegasus Institute, Marshallese Educational Initiative, Nukewatch, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World, Hibakusha Stories, Peace Boat US, Affected Communities and Allies Working Group of the Nuclear Ban Treaty Collaborative, and The Prospect Hill Foundation.
This event underscored the dangers of the nuclear fuel trajectory and the legacy of nuclear testing. It also highlighted the importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This event included representatives from First Nations and Indigenous Communities. The recording can be found below.
Following the webinar, RTT met with a representative from Lush Cosmetics. Lush was impressed by our work and invited RTT to submit a discretionary project centered on activating and empowering youth in this field.
We will continue to organize webinars featuring representatives from First Nations and Indigenous Communities. These webinars will help us to build virtual relationships with First Nations and Indigenous Communities as we continue with this project.
We hope that you will continue to follow us and support our incredible work in supporting First Nations and Indigenous Communities.
We would like to thank you for supporting our project entitled “Activating Frontline Communities.” Since our last update, we have been super busy! Last week, we organized a series of events with Marshallese youth in Washington D.C.
Together with the Marshallese Educational Initiative, we organized two presentations about youth activism and nuclear disarmament at Gonzaga College High School. Many of the students were unaware about the legacy of U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and the Runit Dome, where the United States stored its nuclear waste.
Following our educational events at Gonzaga College High School, we engaged with policymakers about the COMPACT negotiations. Specifically, we met with a representative of Congress and recommended that the U.S. must disclose several classified documents about the U.S. testing in the Marshall Islands. We further explained the necessity for youth to be involved in the negotiations.
Also, we met with a representative of the Marshall Islands. At the meeting, Marshallese youth activists explained that the COMPACT negotiations affect all Marshallese. Therefore, all interested Marshallese should be involved in the bilateral COMPACT negotiations between the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the U.S.
Significantly, our work in D.C. exemplified the urgent need for policymakers to listen to youth and incorporate their views into policy decisions that impact them.
As we continue to engage in advocacy work with Marshallese youth, we hope to transform policymakers' mindsets about youth engagement. We are committed to making a difference.
We also convened an important educational event at the Yale Club, where Benetick Kabua Maddison delivered powerful remarks. In addition, ambassadors further touched upon the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.
Together, as a united voice, we will continue to provide avenues for youth to express themselves and challenge the status quo.
Thank you for supporting us!
Thank you for supporting our project, "Activating Frontline Communities." In late June, Reverse the Trend traveled to Springdale, Arkansas to meet with the Marshallese community. In Springdale, we delivered a presentation about youth activism, the legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Marshallese Educational Initiative sponsored the presentation.
Following the presentation, we attended the Marshallese Educational Initiative's commemoration event on the 75th anniversary of the first nuclear test in the Marshall Islands. Representatives from the Marshall Islands shared their thoughts about the legacy of nuclear testing.
Our interns also collaborated with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to produce videos in which they joined the Marshallese community in advocating for a world free of nuclear weapons.
The next day, we attended MEI's two panels on nuclear and climate issues. The nuclear panel consisted of Ariana Tibon, RMI National Nuclear Commission, Albious Latior, Marshallese community advocate, and Dr. Tommy Rock, Diné, Navajo First Nation. The speakers for the climate panel were: Tina Eonemto Stege, RMI Climate Envoy, Mireya Rieth, Arkansas United, and Kendra Pinto, Diné, Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation Moderators were Marcina Langrine and Benetick Kabua Maddison, MEI.
After attending these meetings, we had a strategy session with Benetick Kabua Maddison. As part of our strategy session, we discussed the need to empower young Marshallese youth on the COMPACT negotiations and nuclear disarmament.
Upon returning to New York, we are determined to continue our support to the Marshallese community.
We have also begun conducting outreach to Indigenous and First Nations.
Thank you for supporting us; these activities would not be possible without your donations!
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