Raising Youth Awareness on Nuclear Disarmament
Schools’ Peace Week 2017: Raising Youth Awareness on Nuclear Disarmament
Peace Week 2017 is nearly here and the Peace Foundation is excited to announce that the theme is “Aotearoa/New Zealand 30 Years Nuclear Free.”This year thousands of students across the country are celebrating Schools’ Peace Week, by paying tribute to the past, while taking ownership of a nuclear free New Zealand for their generation.
122 schools from across New Zealand, and from countries as far away as Kazakhstan, Germany, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Burundi will participate in Schools’ Peace Week, held between August 7-11 2017. The date is chosen to commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Schools’ Peace Week, organised by the Peace Foundation, celebrates the momentous achievement of the 30th Anniversary of New Zealand’s Nuclear Free Zone Act that occurred on June 8th. This legislation shaped the identity of New Zealand as a peace nation, both nationally and internationally. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, people from many different social backgrounds - students, women, Maori, scientists, religious groups - united as part of a nationwide anti-nuclear movement which lead to this law.
The nuclear-free movement is still alive among the next generation. Currently at the United Nations, over 130 countries are participating in negotiations for a Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. On July 7th 2017, it is anticipated that the world will finally have a ban on nuclear weapons which will have ramifications across the globe.
Lucy Stewart, Youth Programmes Coordinator at The Peace Foundation, is attending the negotiations at the United Nations and states, “Incredible optimism is in the room at the UN, we are very close to achieving a legal ban on nuclear weapons. Youth from across the globe are here participating, and it is clear that they are fighting for a world free of nuclear weapons. At this time, we as New Zealanders, can be so proud of our admirable nuclear-free stance. Our generation needs to take ownership of this stance and help the rest of the world achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”
The students participating in Schools’ Peace Week this August will proudly celebrate New Zealand’s leadership for a nuclear-free world through their projects for peace. Primary school students will make lanterns, design peace symbols, fold paper cranes and plant sunflowers to support the Treaty and honour the victims of nuclear weapons. Secondary school students will watch films about NZ’s nuclear-free inspiring history and have an opportunity to meet the New Zealanders who helped the ban happen. They will also hold a UN debate, and role-play on a nuclear crisis in their classrooms and take peace walks around their communities.
By centring its theme around the 30th anniversary of nuclear-free legislation in New Zealand, Schools’ Peace Week highlights this critical issue and gives new momentum to disarmament education in New Zealand and globally.