Youth push for a nuclear weapons-free world
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
A 20-year-old University of Adelaide student will fly to Geneva this month to meet United Nations former chief weapons investigator Dr Hans Blix.
Catriona Standfield will represent Australia at an international conference in Switzerland on Students for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World from 13-16 July, joining 14 other students from 11 different countries.
The double degree student in Arts and International Studies is one of 230 university students from 53 countries who entered a United Nations essay competition to encourage governments to steer clear of nuclear weapons.
Dr Blix, who is President of the World Federation of United Nations Associations, initiated the student competition to engage young people from around the world to become more informed about global disarmament.
"The basic thrust of my essay was to engage the public to target key government people who are anti-nuclear and encourage them to become more outspoken," Catriona said.
"Some 12,000 nuclear weapons remain deployed around the world, despite the fact that public sentiment overwhelmingly opposes their use. It is critical that people put pressure on their governments to either disarm or stay away from nuclear weapons."
Catriona said high-profile scientists should be recruited to lobby for a nuclear weapons-free world, and community forums organised to debate the issue.
"This approach empowers citizens and encourages them to hold their governments accountable," she said.
Catriona's essay was one of nine winning submissions selected by the United Nations judging panel. An additional six students who produced award-winning videos and posters will take part in the conference.
The participating students will discuss the conference themes as part of a panel in Geneva and also undertake a brainstorming workshop at the conclusion of the three-day event.
Apart from her double degree, Catriona is also studying Indonesian, hoping to secure work in that part of the world with the United Nations or an affiliated organisation after she graduates.
For more information on the Students for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World conference, visit the website www.disarmamenthub.org