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.