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UN Director General praises SOAS disarmament project

SOAS commended at UN presentation for disarmament strategy

L-R: Director of CISD Dan Plesch, UN Director General Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva Ambassador Hellmut Hoffmann.

4 March 2013

The Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has described SOAS’ disarmament project a Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP) as interesting and innovative.

He said: “It is my hope that the SCRAP project can provide inspiration to reverse these trends [towards war] – urgently.”

Director General Tokayev, also Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Conference, made the comment as he delivered the opening remarks at a discussion on ‘New approaches to General and Complete Disarmament’ at the United Nations, Geneva  on 13 February 2013.

In his speech he added: “It is initiatives such as this one that contribute to keeping the issue of disarmament and non-proliferation alive and on the agenda of governments.”

Diplomats from a score of nations joined the discussion and the meeting established SCRAP as a credible part of diplomatic dialogue on disarmament.

The rare speech by the Director General at a student-led event organised by a single NGO, the eminence of the chair and the expertise of the respondents, all testify to the significance of what was called a ‘new paradigm’ in disarmament proposals.

The SCRAP proposal is a holistic approach to global disarmament that involves the adoption of an international legally binding agreement for complete and general disarmament. The concept is designed to expand the idea of what is possible by drawing on the best practice of past agreements in disarmament.

SCRAP comes from the initiative of students, alumni and staff of SOAS, University of London, and is based at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD).

While the project is supported by a committee of academics and NGO officials, the enthusiasm and intellectual capacity of students, both current and former, have been pivotal to SCRAP’s recent progress. SCRAP has also partnered with a student network at the Simon Fraser University, Canada.     

Director General Tokayev echoed the importance of engaging youth, adding in his remarks: “Disarmament and non-proliferation education – especially among youth – is key in fighting indifference and complacency. It is essential to empower the young to become active and engaged citizens who can make their views on peace and security known to decision-makers.”

CISD’s MA International Studies and Diplomacy student Anna Feuer commented: “We are extremely excited that Director General Tokayev expressed an interest in the SCRAP concept. He made a rare appearance at an event organised by a single NGO and which was led by students. This establishes SCRAP as a useful and credible contribution to the UN dialogue on disarmament. We were very honoured by the participation of Director General Tokayev and Ambassador Hoffman, and we hope to build on this momentum to move the SCRAP project forward.”

The SCRAP team’s next step is to participate in the Second Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) where they will present on ‘Creating the conditions for General and Complete Disarmament’ on 1 May 2013. Further details will be made available on their website.

For further information, contact:

Visit the SCRAP website www.scrapweapons.com

Read the full SCRAP report.

Download a podcast of the discussion.