New Nuclear Realities, UNA Youth’s 2013 conference, took place on Saturday 23 February in North London.
With over 200 places booked and almost 20 expert speakers this event was UNA Youth's biggest gathering of 2013. Participants enjoyed lectures and panel debates with high profile nuclear professionals, UN careers guidance and networking with other members from across the UK.
John Duncan, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Director of Communications and former UK Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament, started off the morning by discussing the past and current contexts of nuclear weapons policy. This was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Paul Ingram (BASIC) with panellists Mark Fitzpatrick (IISS), Rebecca Johnson (ACRONYM), and Patricia Lewis (Chatham House). This panel addressed key nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation challenges including: tactical nuclear weapons in Europe; the prospects of halting nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; and the likelihood of further Russian/US nuclear disarmament.
After a networking lunch, participants choose which breakout sessions they attended. One option was to explore the ideas from the morning policy discussions in a more intimate setting with young professionals working in the sector. Alternatively there was the chance to consider future career prospects with a panel of speakers at different steps on their own international career offering guidance and advice.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick, former UK ambassador to the UN, delivered the day's keynote speech which focussed on the challenges and opportunities that the run-up to the 2015 Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference presents.
Stephen Vanson, UNA Youth's President said "The quality, calibre and sheer number of the speakers at this conference was astounding. It's rare that regular students are surrounded by some of the UK's most influential voices on these issues. UNA Youth members seized this opportunity by asking insightful and interesting questions."
Natalie Chindipha, UNA-UK's Youth Intern said "UNA Youth is the UK's only youth network devoted to the work of the United Nations. This conference was an ideal opportunity for its members from across the country to meet, network and exchange ideas."
See the conference in pictures here