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Youth Debate on Nuclear Weapons

Youth Debate on Nuclear Weapons

A youth debate on the issue of nuclear disarmament will be hosted on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at the Legislative Council Chambers of the Parliament.

The participants will be asked to address the question, “Has New Zealand dropped the nuclear disarmament ball?”

Wilson Chau and Lyndon Burford (young experts on nuclear disarmament) along with Jacinda Ardern (MP) will represent the affirmative position that New Zealand has dropped the nuclear disarmament ball.

The opposing position will be represented by Peter McCaffery (Treasurer of UN Youth Association of New Zealand and President of ACT on Campus), Nicky Wagner (MP), and Caitlin Craigie (Victoria University Debating Society).

The debate is part of a new, local youth campaign - BANG (Ban All Nukes Generation) Aotearoa - facilitated by The Peace Foundation. BANG Aotearoa is part of an international umbrella, engaging youth in issues of nuclear disarmament, with branches in the US and Europe as well.

The development of the campaign and the debate are inspired by the upcoming Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty Review (NPT) Conference taking place this May at the UN Headquarters in New York. Virtually every country in the world will gather to discuss plans to prevent proliferation, prohibit nuclear weapons and eliminate the remaining nuclear bombs.

The NPT went into effect in 1970. Review conferences have been held every five years since to assess the implementation of the treaty’s provisions and make recommendations on measures to further strengthen it. This conference has unique momentum powered by U.S. President Obama’s vision for a nuclear-weapons-free world and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Five Point Plan to achieve this vision.

The issue of nuclear disarmament has a strong history in New Zealand in particular. In 1987, parliament passed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act, making it the first Western-allied nation to legislate towards a nuclear free zone.

In comments regarding the upcoming NPT Conference and the youth debate, Natasha Barnes, Education and Communications Officer for the Disarmament and Security Centre in Christchurch, states the following: “We are at a tipping point in the struggle for a nuclear weapon-free world. This year there is a window of opportunity to see progress on an issue that haunts our planet, still threatening its survival. There are many causes for optimism; however the latest efforts of the international anti-nuclear movement require the global support of today's youth. This parliamentary debate comes at a critical time to reignite discussion in New Zealand. Our country has a strong and vocal tradition of leadership in peace and disarmament; we must make our voices heard to help make a decisive move forward on disarmament.”

The debate will begin at 4pm on Wednesday, 28 April, and will be held in the Legislative Council Chambers of parliament. This is a public event – all are welcome to attend. Due to security restrictions, please RSVP to james.kennelly@parliament.govt.nz by Monday, 26 April.

For more information about the debate or broader campaign, contact Youth Programmes Coordinator, Anna Skinner at The Peace Foundation – Wellington Office.


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