Youth Champions for Disarmament

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, with generous financial support from the Government of Germany called on young people between the ages of 18 and 24 across the globe to apply for an innovative learning programme aimed at empowering them to work for disarmament in their communities. German Logo

The Office for Disarmament Affairs sought youth who are motivated to use their talents to help raise awareness and promote change for a more peaceful and secure world. Out of 6,515 applicants from 157 countries around the world, the Office is pleased to announce an eclectic and geographically diverse group of ten youth advocates who were selected for this important disarmament initiative.

Jess Aitkin (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is an undergraduate Politics and International Relations student at the University of York. Their main interests lie with the militarisation of AI, particularly with reference to nuclear weaponry, a topic they covered in their most recent article for the Political Studies Association. When they are not researching, they enjoy producing and presenting on their student radio show.

Christelle Barakat (Lebanon) is an incoming Lebanese Fulbright graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro pursuing an M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies with a concentration on International Peace Development. She holds a B.A. in Political Sciences and International Affairs with high distinction from the Lebanese American University where she was also part of the honors program, with 3 minors in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Gender Studies, and Legal Studies.

Isa J. Begemann (Germany) is a student of International Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She has ventured abroad from a young age and would like to see young people from all over the world included and engaged in questions of international security.

Naomi Ekpoki (Nigeria) founded The Senema Love Foundation (SLF), a youth led organization in Nigeria. SLF focuses on peace building, quality education, skills training in Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) for financially challenged children and youths, especially surviving victims of violence in Northern Nigeria. She is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at the University of Edinburgh school of Engineering UK (M.A.) and holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Covenant University Nigeria.

Waleed Helmy (Egypt) is an electrical engineer graduate who is currently working as a business associate/project management at Vodafone International Services. He is an alumnus of the African presidential leadership program and a trained volunteer of the African Union youth volunteer corps. Moreover, he is passionate about youth empowerment in peacebuilding and entrepreneurship in the Arab and African regions.

Patrick Karekezi (born of Rwanda, raised in Uganda) is passionate about global youth engagements and the creation of just and peaceful societies. He is a second year student at the African Leadership University pursing an undergraduate degree in Global Challenges in governance and policy.

Dilan Ezgi Koç (Turkey) is an International Relations graduate student and musician from Ankara, Turkey. She is going to continue her master’s studies at Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs on a Fulbright scholarship. Her research interests include nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and nuclear security networks, and she has also worked and published on the Syrian conflict and alliance politics. She has also been volunteering and holding leadership positions at non-profit organizations, organizing events and fundraising concerts to advocate for human rights and gender equality

Kirsten Mosey’s (Canada) passion for disarmament was sparked after volunteering in refugee camps across Greece in 2016. Since then, she has had the opportunity to learn from peacebuilders and political scientists at the University of Waterloo, actively seeking peace and justice in all areas of life. 

Palesa Mogorosi (South Africa) identifies herself as a passionate young woman who is grounded in compassion, and who aspires to be a practitioner for human welfare.

Linh Trang Phung (Vietnam) is a sophomore majoring in International Economics at Foreign Trade University (FTU), Viet Nam. She worked for Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam during Vietnam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship, played a leading role at AIESEC in Viet Nam as well as an inspiring representative of Miss FTU Beauty and Charm. She is determined to apply her knowledge and skills to make impacts on her society and on the mission of empowering youth participation in solving social issues to make a more peaceful and better world.

The 10 selected youth champions will receive training in general principles of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control through online courses and a two-week in-person study tour in Vienna, Geneva, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They will exchange ideas with disarmament experts from think tanks, civil society organizations and the diplomatic field, and develop a plan to engage their communities on issues related to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. The Office for Disarmament Affairs will provide support, including mentoring and guidance, throughout the programme.

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