RTT Group Photo
A lot has happened since the last report.
Last month, we had the privilege of attending the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). At this conference, our youth were predominantly tasked with updating the RTT social media by live tweeting and curating Instagram posts, as well as assisting Christian Ciobanu and Danielle Samler with preparations for side events, like “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.”
But before that, on June 17th, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Reverse The Trend: Save Our People, Save Our Planet, and the Embassy of Ireland convened for 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 lucky to have a fantastic array of speakers present at the Orientation, including: H.E. Ambassador O'Leary of Ireland; Daniel of Austria; Marco of Mexico; Seth of ICAN; Veronique of the ICRC; Sueichi and Leshima, two representatives of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations; Dr. Intondi of the Institute for Race, Justice, and Civic Engagement at Montgomery College; Edwick of WILPF Zimbabwe; and NAPF President Dr. Hughes. The Youth Orientation was a success, and the youth reported that the speakers inspired and equipped them for the week ahead!
The momentum continued as the RTT Vienna Youth Activism Team attended the 1MSP, a 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 and Benetick discussed the importance of adequately implementing the positive obligations of the TPNW alongside other, such as Alimzhan, Founder and Director of the Centre for International Security and Policy, Bonnie, Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard's International Human Rights Clinic, and Karipek, a survivor of the nuclear testing in Semipalatinsk and an artist. 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. 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."
Moreover, Marcina 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 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 and Christian, who shared the following reflections: "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 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."
We are now preparing for the 2022 NPT Review Conference, where we will be hosting a side event entitled "Hope for a Better Tomorrow: Reflections on the Twin Existential Threats." We will also be organizing an exhibit about A Journey Home, which is based on a community poem by Marshallese youth. We are also coordinating the international youth statement.
We are super excited about our continued youth activism.
Thank you for everything! We appreciate your support in our work.
Christian Ciobanu and Danielle Samler
Danielle and Marcina
Marcina Delivering Youth Statement
Side Event on Articles 6 and 7
Photo of Youth at the Orientation
Pacific Bure Event