May 31, 2022
The following reflection is from Nicki Eichenholtz ’22, a Pace University undergraduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2021. Students were given service-learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN and New York City. Nicki’s assignment was with Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament program of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world.
For my civic engagement assignment I worked with the organization Reaching Critical Will, writing and editing articles about proceedings of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) for their magazine, First Committee Monitor. We read through official written statements and notes of verbal comments from participating UN countries after every session, looking specifically for discussion of youth education and disarmament.
When I first received this assignment, and the opportunity to work for an organization surrounding the struggle for disarmament, I knew immediately that I wanted to be somehow involved with the UN and learn more about what exactly it is that they do.
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May 31, 2022
The following reflection is from Mandi Karpo ‘23, a Pace University Political Science major who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2021. Students were given service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN Students were given service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN and New York City. Mandi’s assignment was with Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament program of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world.
Illustration by Mandi Karpo
My assignment involved monitoring the Fall 2021 session of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and writing up articles on youth and disarmament. I learned that First Committee comprises people just like you and me. However, a certain status, validity, and credibility allow these specific individuals to make decisions that affect massive populations. What goes on during these meetings has grown too complicated for the ordinary person to give attention or care.
Thus, I have learned the first and foremost important concept about myself; I am a tiny fish in a very large pond.
However, some organizations have enabled people like me to gain accessible information about what goes on in deep waters, no longer sheltering myself within my bubble of educational ignorance.
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May 27, 2022
The following reflection is from Deja Kemp-Salliey ’22, a former Pace University student who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2021. Students were given service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN and New York City. Deja’s assignment was with the New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN), NYC-based activists associated with 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Deja Kemp-Salliey ’22, wears an ICAN mask outside City Hall to advocate for local action on nuclear disarmament. Photo: George de Castro Day
My assignment with NYCAN involved contacting New York City Council Members to advocate for important nuclear disarmament legislation (Res. 976 and Int. 1621). This consisted of calls and emails to sitting Council Members to convince them to vote in favor when the bills came to the floor.
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May 26, 2022
The following reflection is from Rina Mjeku, a recent Pace University graduate who participated in the POL297L Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class in Fall 2021. Students were given service learning assignments with disarmament advocacy organizations working in and around the UN and New York City. Rina’s assignment was with the network of organizations that planned the 2021 Humanitarian Disarmament Forum on Race and Intersectionality.
As I was considering which community partner to work with for my civic engagement hours, I was drawn to the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum (HDF). I had great interest in the 2020-2021 Forum topic, on Race and Intersectionality and wanted to help with the planning process in any way I could.
Working with the HDF was an eye-opening experience. It allowed me to see the behind-the-scenes of planning a forum attended by hundreds of disarmament activists from around the world. I learned how the disarmament community can become intersectional and anti-racist in their work and organizations.
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February 28, 2022
by Emily Welty, Director and Associate Professor of Peace and Justice Studies, Pace University New York City
- Your attention is a form of currency. When you choose to read or take in information from one source and not another, you are boosting this information source with your views. This means it is more important than ever to think about who is delivering narratives that are careful, nuanced and complex.
- Take a long view. If you already find yourself spending periods of time taking in lots of tiny pieces of information, consider how using that time to understand the historical roots of this conflict is actually much more productive. I will provide a list of resources at the bottom but consider how even though it feels like you are informed to keep checking Twitter, your news feed and TikTok, this is not actually providing you with deeper understanding.
- Beware of false flags and misinformation. Unless you are both linguistically and culturally fluent in the conflict, you are very unlikely to be able to distinguish good information from bad. Everyone believes that they are not susceptible to misinformation. Assume that you are and turn to information that has been carefully sourced. It is very appealing to watch the short reports of citizens who are livestreaming from their homes – and sometimes this might be a responsible way to know what is happening. But think carefully about what your intentions are when you take this in – is this helping you to engage? Is it deepening trauma? Keep thinking about how we balance the responsibility to witness with the need to not traumatize our own nervous systems.
- Amplify people who are calling for peace – especially if they are in some of the most difficult contexts in which to do so. Follow carefully the nonviolent protests that are occurring and how they are being policed. Keep asking how protestors are being treated and if you need to publicly weigh in on the conflict, highlight their bravery and determination.
- Avoid simplistic narratives. Think about how to analyze a conflict beyond who is right and who is wrong. What do these actors want? What are their interests? What are the connectors between these societies? How are resources involved? Be skeptical of sources that link a conflict to any one singular cause. If a report claims that a conflict is “all about oil/NATO/something else” be skeptical about the complexity of this reporting. Avoid narratives that present conflict with clearly defined good people and bad people.
- Language matters! Using ableist language like “crazy”, “madman”, “lunatic”, “insane”, etc. is not helpful and usually does not accurately describe the way that humans are making decisions. Comparing people to animals or using language like “savage” is rooted in historical dehumanizing language that is both colonial and racist.
- Take a break. What is happening right now will have an effect on your body and your mind if you take too much of it in at once. While it feels like we are doing something good by watching endless news, this has actual somatic impacts on our body and our nervous system which cannot always distinguish between what is happening to us and what we are watching. Go outside. Turn off your phone and chat with a friend. Look at the sky. We need people to stay engaged and care long-term which means that we also have to take breaks.
In the case of Ukraine specifically:
- Take the time to understand what sanctions mean. What kinds of sanctions are applied in conflict and how do they work?
- Think about refugee support. There are already refugees moving in this conflict – where are they going? What are their needs? Who is supporting them?
- Language matters! If you are signaling support for Ukrainians, use “Ukraine” not “the Ukraine” and “Kyiv” not “Kiev”. These preferred terms indicate the way Ukrainians define themselves rather than the way they have been defined by others.
- Think about how this conflict has been heightened and made much more dangerous and scary by the presence of nuclear weapons. Work on efforts to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and particularly the Cities Appeal to get every city in the world to commit to being nuclear-free. Look at how your own banks/institutions invest in nuclear weapons and demand divestment.
January 29, 2022
The peer-reviewed academic journal Global Policy will soon publish an article by Dr. Matthew Bolton of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute examining the inadequacy of many current responses to the impact of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing on the human rights of people who were living downwind. The following is an abstract of the article and its policy implications:
Atmospheric nuclear test detonations conducted by USA, USSR, UK, France and China, 1945–1980, generated radioactive particles that were dispersed by weather patterns, returning to earth as fallout. People who lived ‘downwind’ face ongoing risks from their exposure to ionizing radiation, as well as psychological, social, cultural and political distress. However, testing states obscured these humanitarian consequences by claiming that fallout could be contained to specific spatial zones, that there are ‘thresholds’ below which radiation exposure has negligible health impacts and that socio-political forms of harm should be disregarded. While the scientific consensus concludes fallout circulates in complex, nonlinear patterns; there is no safe level of radiation exposure; and nuclear testing can generate tremendous anxiety, what Liboiron calls ‘threshold thinking’ continues to underlie policies ostensibly assisting victims of nuclear weapons. This article offers examples from responses to French Pacific nuclear testing, showing how access to compensation and other assistance has often been conditioned on threshold qualifications that function to limit downwind communities’ access to assistance and remedy. Victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offer opportunities to move beyond reductive policy logics to multifaceted, human rights-based approaches to affected communities’ concerns.
- Policy making on assistance to victims of nuclear weapons testing must put the voices of survivors themselves – rather than the structures responsible for the test program – at the center of the conversation, taking seriously the disability rights slogan ‘Nothing about us, without us’.
- Policy makers should avoid designing policies of assistance to victims of nuclear testing that limit eligibility to people living in pre-determined spatial zones, given the widespread dispersal and non-linear circulation of radioactive fallout.
- Victim assistance policy making should start from the presumption that there is no thresh- old below which exposure to radiation is safe, or politically unimportant.
- Decision-makers should not deny access to benefits based on qualifying threshold radiation doses; such policies may discriminate against women and girls; Indigenous Peoples; and those with genetic predispositions to cancer.
- Global standards of ‘permissible doses’ of radiation protection – based on a trade-off for the claimed benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear energy – should not be used to evade responsibility for the harms of nuclear weapons activities.
- Policy makers should design victim assistance programs that recognize and remedy the complex medical, psychological, social, political and economic harms of nuclear test programs.
- Policy makers, associations of nuclear weap- ons survivors, civil society organizations and scientists should consider using the forums offered by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to build more holistic and human rights-based approaches to assisting victims of nuclear weapons activities.
October 8, 2021
Pace University undergraduate student Jeremiah Williams ’23 delivered a statement on youth engagement and disarmament education to the UN General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), 8 October 2021.
“More than 40% of the world’s population is under the age of 25, most of whom live in the Global South. We are not just ‘the future,’ young people are also here now,” said Political Science major Williams, speaking on behalf of 34 global civil society organizations and campaigns, including two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. “We have the right to intergenerational equity, with a voice in the international community.”
The statement was drafted by Dyson College of Arts and Sciences students Taylor Mangus ’23 and Williams, who together lead the Pace Debates team. They had input from Pace University’s Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control class and diverse youth and disarmament education stakeholders around the world. They received support from Dr. Matthew Breay Bolton, director of Pace’s International Disarmament Institute and Dr. Emily Welty, director of the Peace and Justice Studies program.
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September 17, 2021
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted its first resolution “Youth, disarmament and non-proliferation,” calling for “meaningful and inclusive participation of young people in discussions … of disarmament and non- proliferation.” The General Assembly has also adopted a biennial resolution on “Disarmament and non-proliferation education” since 2000, including last year.
In a new policy brief published in Reaching Critical Will’s First Committee Briefing Book, Pace’s International Disarmament Institute recommends strengthening the resolution on youth and disarmament, by:
- Incorporating recommendations of the 2021 Seoul Youth Declaration and 2020 joint civil society statement, particularly those regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- Drawing linkages between youth, disarmament, and other pressing issues such as climate action; and
- Addressing concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The brief also provides a detailed review of the importance of youth and disarmament and disarmament education agendas for year’s UN General Assembly First Committee, as well as the upcoming Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
January 30, 2021
A new paper co-authored by Dr. Matthew Bolton of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute, argues for a legally-binding instrument on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). There is a need both for a legally-binding prohibition of certain autonomous weapons and for strong positive obligations to ensure meaningful human control of the use of force rooted in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. The Alliance for Multilateralism has endorsed voluntary Guiding Principles on LAWS. Its Member States should now lead the Principles’ upgrade towards more robust international agreements. One venue for this could be an additional protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).
The paper, published by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, is available for download here.
January 29, 2021
The peer-reviewed academic journal Global Policy will publish a Special Section on “Addressing the Humanitarian and Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Weapons” in its February issue, edited by Dr. Matthew Breay Bolton of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute and Elizabeth Minor of Article 36. Pace University graduate student Sydney Tisch also co-authored one of the articles, on the impact of UK and US nuclear testing in Kiribati. In recognition of the January 2021 entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the Global Policy team are releasing the articles early online and making them open access over the next couple weeks.
The Special Section aims to be a resource for researchers, policymakers, advocates and journalists, compiling in once place key information on the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear detonations and humanitarian, environmental and development policy efforts to address them. The Special Section includes an overview of the locations all nuclear weapons detonations and a review of their humanitarian and environmental consequences; a detailed case study of US and UK nuclear testing in Kiribati; an interview with survivors in Japan and Kazakhstan; a commentary on existing victim assistance and environment remediation; and a commentary on how best to implement the TPNW victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations. The overall argument running through the articles is that policy interventions to date have not adequately addressed the needs and rights of hibakusha, atomic veterans and test survivors, nor ongoing environmental concerns. The authors argue that the TPNW victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations offer an important new opportunity for addressing the consequences of nuclear detonations, by focusing policy attention and constituting a new field of development assistance.
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