Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is a program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.
Day 4: Thursday, June 29, 2017
Day 4 of the conference began to focus on the intersection between science and policy, and the importance of translating complicated science into simplified language for diplomats and policymakers. Jonathan Forman, senior advisor to the scientific advisory board of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (OPCW), took the stage to share advice of how the OPCW tries to convey the science behind the convention to lawmakers, using tools such as using wasabi to metaphorically show the effects of tear gas and how it makes the eyes water, to going back to old-fashioned molecule models to explain stereochemical configurations.
"Disarmament requires scientist-policymaker collaboration," Forman noted. As scientists tend to think in terms of technical insight and analytical thinking, and policymakers tend to think of the broader global communication, it is particularly important that these groups retain good communication between them, he said.
Meanwhile, some CTBTO Youth Group took the initiative to hold a workshop at the conference on public engagement with the CTBT in South Asia, particularly India and Pakistan. One of the many themes that emerged from the workshop was the importance of engagement with media sources, scientific communities, and government bodies in the region to shift dialogue surrounding the CTBT, but also that these different actors in each respective state held different levels of influence towards CTBT ratification. The Youth Group members moderating the workshop challenged participants to analyze stakeholders in their own communities going forward to better advocate for the CTBT.
The end of the afternoon saw the presentation by 3 CTBTO Youth Group member projects (selected out of a group of 8 projects submitted) who were presenting innovative ways to increase the public awareness around the CTBT, particularly in young audiences. The first project was by University of British Columbia Students who proposed a "Countdown Challenge" involving the CTBT designed for engagement on social media in the hopes of having the challenge go "viral" and thus increasing the public awareness of the CTBT. Next was a presentation by a Los Angeles high schooler whose teacher taught them about the dangers of nuclear weapons, resulting in their school being dedicated a "nuclear weapons free zone" and eventually a desire to push the California state legislature to adopt legislation mandating nuclear weapons, nonproliferation, and disarmament education to be taught in high schools. Finally the third project was called the "3C Video Project," designed to "Foster the Consciousness of the Young on CTBT and Nuclear Issues," with the three C's in each video being: Critical, Curious, and Creative.
Additionally, though not an official conference event, a notable and timely statement jointly released by the American Geophysical Union and the Seismological Society of America announced technical revisions and a reaffirmation of their original 1999 statement "The Capability to Monitor the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Should Be Expanded, Completed, and Sustained." The official release is posted below.—BRENNA GAUTAM and SHERVIN TAHERAN
Further Resources on Day 4:
VIDEO: "Science in Support of Global Policy Decisions," Chaired by: Christopher Timperley of the OPCW and Gustavo Haquin Gerade of the Soreq Nuclear Research Center in Jerusalem. Jonathan Forman of the OCPW also speaks about "Bringing Scientific Insights into Disarmament Policy: Science Advice at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons" (50 minutes) Following the end of this panel is the advocacy presentations by CTBTO Youth, and then a workshop led a by Ramesh Jaura, Editor-in-Chief of IDN-InDepthNews on writing for media outlets and op-eds.
"RELEASE: The Capability ot Monitor the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Should Be Expanded, Completed, and Sustained," joint release by the American Geophysical Union and Seismological Society of America, revised April 2017 and released June 29, 2017.