The following reflection is from Karina Roca ’20, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.
My reservations toward the United Nations prior to my service learning assignment as a notetaker with an international disarmament NGO derived from ignorance and a mistrust I carried from taking classes on genocide, systemic racism and Western dominance of the global political scene. My observations of First Committee confirmed the volume of the West’s voice in this arena, but not its dominance.
Pace University student Angelica Roman ’19 at UN headquarters in New York City.
The following reflection is from Angelica Roman ’19, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.
I walked through the doors of the United Nations on September 27, 2018, clenching my grounds pass, anxiously walking through the halls, feeling the nerves creep through every vein of my body. “I don’t deserve to be here,” my thoughts piercingly echoed in my head.
“Why was an inexperienced philosophy undergraduate student attending First Committee?”, I asked myself. In a room full of expert Delegates and activists I felt like the pariah. I was the young adult who knew very little about nuclear weapons, missiles, drones, or really any topic at First Committee.
Yet I was guaranteed a seat for two weeks. I was allowed to hear, take notes, and ask questions to the leaders of the world. I realized that this opportunity I had was one of a kind. And while other college students read and studied the reports of First Committee that week, I was able to physically be present in the room with all of the delegates.
Pace University student Sydney Tisch ’20 at UN headquarters in New York City.
The following reflection is from Sydney Tisch ’20, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.
When I was placed with Reaching Critical Will (RCW) for my service learning assignment, I was thrilled. Not only are RCW part of the oldest women’s peace organization in the world – the Women’s International League of Freedom (WILPF), but I was already familiar with the organization as a resource for everything related to disarmament and the UN.
I had used their website and digital archive of statements made in First Committee for projects in previous courses and I was excited to be assisting in the continuance of this vital source of information for activists, NGOs, and member states alike.
However, despite my enthusiasm, little could have prepared me for the realities of the hard work and focus that was required of such intense monitoring and, in my case, note-taking.
Pace University students (left to right) Seneca Forch, Laken Fournier and Mary-Lynn Hearn meet with Hiroshima survivors and Akira Kawasaki of Peace Boat at Rutgers University, 29 October 2018.
The following reflection is from Mary-Lynn Hearn ’19, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.
This semester I did my service learning project with Peace Boat US, an NGO working for peace, human rights, and sustainability, at their office opposite the United Nations in New York.
One of the most rewarding experiences of the semester was helping with a Peace Boat event at Rutgers University, in which I heard the testimonies of Tsukamoto Michiko and Sora Tamiko, two hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Despite what they had endured, they communicated no animosity for what happened over 70 years ago, only a call to action for nuclear disarmament. The resilience of Tsukamoto Michiko and Sora Tamiko was inspiring and a true testament for how there is a possibility to rebuild.
Pace University Katherrine Ketterer ’20 did her service learning assignment with Control Arms during the 2018 UN General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).
The following reflection is from Katherine Ketterer ’20, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2018. Students were given with service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN General Assembly First Committee (International Security and Disarmament). For more on the class, click here.
Even though I am a head delegate of Pace’s New York City Model UN program, I have always felt the United Nations was an elusive thing. I learned about the people who work there, how they are supposed to speak and act, along with their policy. But I never really understood what exactly went on during the meetings.
Now I have a much better idea. During the UN General Assembly First Committee this October and November, I worked with Control Arms, an NGO coalition that works to curb the negative impact of the conventional arms trade. Taking notes, I had the opportunity to hear the concerns and opinions from almost every country in the world, and compile them together for analysis. Pretty cool!
Pace University students (left to right) Seneca Forch ’19, Laken Fournier ’21 and Mary-Lynn Hearn ’19 meet with Hiroshima atomic bombing survivors, Tsukamoto Michiko and Sora Tamiko, and Akira Kawasaki of Peace Boat, at Rutgers University, 29 October 2018. They are holding the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which Peace Boat is an international steering group member.
Pace University students provided almost 470 hours of volunteer service to 12 civil society organizations engaging in humanitarian and human rights advocacy in and around UN policy discussions on global peace and security in Fall 2019 semester.
“Every week I got to gain first hand experience of international relations,” said Crystal Isidor ’21. “I learned about how diplomatic relationships work and how important they are in order to find solutions to complicated problems around the world.”
Enrolled in POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control, 22 undergraduate students were given 20-hour service learning placements with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working at the UN, to fulfill the civic engagement requirement of Pace’s core curriculum. The class also counted for the Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies majors.
The focus of the students’ assignments was the UN General Assembly First Committee, in which the almost 200 member governments debated matters of disarmament and international security, October to November 2019, drafting resolutions for consideration by the General Assembly’s plenary.
Students monitored the debates, taking notes on statements, helping to organize logistics for lunchtime panel discussions, taking photographs, writing news articles and grant proposals, conducting research and assisting with social media messaging.
Dr. Emily Welty and Dr. Matthew Bolton, both professors at Pace University, delivered a joint keynote address about their advocacy with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, 6 November.
“We need to live out our faith by openly and rigorously opposing nuclear weapons,” said Welty, director of Peace and Justice Studies at Pace. “Make a public declaration that you and your faith community reject nuclear deterrence as a false ideology that violates what you hold most dear. And then follow that up with action.”
The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world. From 1 November to 7 November, thousands of civic, spiritual and grassroots changemakers gathered in Toronto, Canada to reaffirm their commitment to the global interfaith movement and interfaith community.
“From the very beginning of the nuclear age, the harm of nuclear weapons has been indiscriminate and multinational,” said Bolton, director of Pace’s International Disarmament Institute. “But the global extent of nuclear harm means there are opportunities for solidarity across national and religious boundaries. Learning about the suffering of nuclear survivors close to home may enable empathy for those farther away. It creates possibilities for collective action.”
Welty and Bolton are a married couple who teach at Pace and made a conscious decision together to devote their lives to promoting peace and disarmament. Their life’s mission was featured in a video last year when they were nominated for a national Jefferson Award.
Two Pace University students delivered a statement to the United Nations General Assembly last week calling for greater participation of youth, women, survivors of violence and people from the ‘Global South,’ which is comprised of Africa, Latin America, and Asia including the Middle East, in peace and security policymaking.
Pace students Sydney Korman and Terrie Soule delivered the address in which they said, “Disarmament education can and should emphasize the humanitarian, human rights and environmental consequences of arms, militarism and armed conflict. It should seek to empower the next generation of leaders to seek peace and alternative conflict resolution processes rather than relying on violence and war.”
Aunty Sue Coleman-Haseldine with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, Canberra, September 2018. Photo: Martin Ollman.
Australian prisoners of war and occupation forces in Japan were exposed to the effects of the atomic bombings. The UK government carried out 12 atmospheric nuclear weapon tests on Australian territories from 1952 to 1957. Further radiological and toxic experiments continued until 1963. The nuclear weapons tests displaced Aboriginal communities, contaminated land and had long-lasting impacts on the health of veterans, civilians and the environment. Australia was also affected by fallout from French Pacific nuclear weapons tests. Interwoven with this complex history are highly contested nuclear projects including uranium mining and proposals for nuclear waste disposal. The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons obligates assistance to victims and remediation of contaminated environments. Despite significant pressure from Australian civil society, Australia boycotted the negotiations. To honor nuclear weapons survivors throughout the Pacific and beyond, Australia should sign and ratify the Treaty.
A new report by Dimity Hawkins and published by Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute documents the humanitarian, human rights and environmental harms of nuclear weapons use and testing on Australians, finding that:
16,000 Australian personnel risked exposure to radiation from the atomic bombings in Japan, as POWs and occupation forces.
16,000 military and civilian Australians took part in the 12 atmospheric British nuclear weapons tests between 1952-1963 on Australian territories.
The British nuclear weapons tests left a legacy of environmental contamination.
There were an additional 600 British ‘minor trials’ – subcritical tests – that spread radiological and toxic contamination across the South Australia desert.
Many veterans of the tests and Japanese occupation have health problems consistent with exposure to radiation; descendants also report multi-generational health problems.
Mining of uranium and storage of nuclear waste poses humanitarian and environmental hazards, especially to Indigenous communities in Australia.
Australia was exposed to fallout from French Pacific nuclear testing from 1966 to 1974.
Venting and leaching of radioactive materials from France’s underground test sites into the ocean poses environmental risks to the South Pacific region.
The report recommends that Australia should:
Sign and RATIFY the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Assess and RESPOND to the humanitarian needs of survivors, including nuclear veterans, Aboriginal and other communities affected by nuclear weapons use and testing.
Survey and REMEDIATE contaminated environments in the testing grounds surrounding the Monte Bello islands, Emu Fields and Maralinga.
RESPECT, protect and fulfill the human rights of nuclear veterans and test survivors.
RETELL the stories of the humanitarian and environmental impact of the tests.