On July 13-16, 2007 the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS) and the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) were co-sponsors of a three-day conference and seminar held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Co-chaired by WFUNA president Dr. Hans Blix and WAAS’s John Cox, the event was the first step in a world-wide initiative designed to inspire continuing research, debate and discussion across students around the planet calling for a nuclear weapons-Free world
WAAS Fellow Robert Berg and WFUNA Secretary General Pera Wells, were key in designing, organizing and conducting the Geneva conference and were the major factors of its success. The World Academy’s co-sponsorship of the conference was enabled by a financial mobilization led by Academy Fellow Robert van Harten and colleagues of his in the Netherlands.
The central focus of the Geneva conference were 15 students whose essays, videos and posters were judged the best of more than 200 submissions made by students from 49 countries. Winners came to Geneva from Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, China, Colombia, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, and the United States. They were participating in the Students For A Nuclear-Free Weapons World competition sponsored by WFUNA and WAAS. The theme for the competition originated with a question posed by Hans Blix; “What do you think can lead governments to stay away from, or do away with, nuclear weapons?”
At the conference Blix commented that the quality of approaches, strategies, and solutions expressed in the essays were sophisticated, creative, highly intelligent, and offer a range of realistic new paths toward nuclear disarmament not previously developed in the decades of effort seeking this outcome. Blix was previously chaired the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, whose comprehensive final report “Weapons of Terror” was presented in June 2006. After being Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 16 years, he headed UNSCOM, which in 2003 determined after 700 inspections that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Perhaps no other single individual today has his depth of wisdom and experience in nuclear disarmament.
Blix and other conference organizers are hopeful that the bonding and enthusiasm among the students gained in Geneva will continue with a momentum that can spread throughout the world where WFUNA has extensive networks of UN Associations in more than 100 countries. At the conclusion of the conference, the student winners proposed and agreed to work on a student-led mobilization of support for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The World Federation plans to continue efforts in this field, including making nuclear disarmament the theme of their next global Model United Nations, an event to take place (for the first time) in the UN and with the participation of the UN Secretary General. The Federation was particularly pleased by the collaboration of the Academy and would like to explore future collaborations.
In advance of the conference, Bob Berg researched and prepared a very interesting history of the World Academy’s association with disarmament since its founding. Click here to read Bob Berg’s Address at the conference
Other websites of interest:
- World Federation of United Nations Associations: http://www.wfuna.org/site/c.rvIYIcN1JwE/b.3769965/
- Global Security Institute: http://www.gsinstitute.org/
- Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission / Report: http://www.wmdcommission.org/