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Report about the UN General Assembly's First Committee

First Committee Review

By James Hannan

With the end of 2018 in sight, it is time to reflect on the action taken and decisions made by the First Committee of the 73rdUN General Assembly.  In light of events that transpired throughout 2018, the topic of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation remains at the forefront of the First Committee agenda.

Setting the tone with opening remarks, the state representatives presented their respective stance on key points of contention in the existing disarmament machinery and regime. Although never thought to be overly enthusiastic for the cause of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the nuclear weapon states rhetoric and positioning is a surprise to anyone on first exposure.




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Global Youth Forum on the TPNW

In collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, PEAC Institute convened the Global Youth Forum on the Treaty of the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons from December 5, 2018 to December 7, 2018. An orientation was held on December 4, 2018.  The forum was held in conjunction to the high-level Pacific Conference.

Ms. Rebecca Irby, President of PEAC Institute; and Mr. Christian N. Ciobanu, the UN Representative of PEAC Institute, organized the youth forum.  

The participants included: youth from the Pacific Islands (New Zealand, Fiji, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, and the Marshall Islands), and international youth from Japan and the US (Meiji Gakuin University, Rutgers University, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University respectively).

We wish to acknowledge and thank our pacific partner, Youngsolwara Pacific, for sending its youth to the forum.

We are also proud that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Samuel Rubin Foundation, and Ploughshares Foundation and the aforementioned universities financially sponsored the youth participants.


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UPenn Peace Project

The Penn Peace Project is a conference geared toward educating the Penn community about current issues involving international peace, particularly the growing relevance of nuclear disarmament and the recent creation and debate over the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The event aims to facilitate discussion about possible resolutions to international conflict. Our speakers for the event are Ms. Veronique Christory, Senior Arms Control Advisor of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Ms. Susanne Hammer, Austrian First Secretary Disarmament Officer, Dr. Carlos Umana, President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Costa Rica; and Ambassador Dell Higgie of New Zealand (Ambassador for Disarmament). Mr. Christian N. Ciobanu, the UN Representative of the PEAC Institute, an NGO based out of New Jersey, chaired the symposium, and Pablo Golac, Director of IAA's Academic Affairs, and Rebecca Irby, President of PEAC, gave introductory remarks.

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8,300,403 Signatures!

Hibakusha Appeal presents 8,300,403 Signatures


With Hidankyo Japan, PEAC helped presented 8,300,403 signatures to Ambassador Ion Jinga, President of the First Committee, at the United Nations today on behalf of the Hibakusha Appeal for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. Yes, you read that right over 8 Million! The story was picked up by many international news outlets. Check out the Japan Times article here!

Sadly no US-based news picked up this story, not surprising, but it's one thing we are working on changing. We believe nuclear issues affect us all and is a topic of much-needed discussion.

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International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

On Wednesday, September 27th, the UN convened a high-level meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. At the start of the event, the Secretary General delivered his remarks in which he drew upon his experience in Nagasaki and Securing our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament, his new disarmament agenda, the Secretary General emphasized the importance of nonproliferation and denuclearization, noting that nuclearization “is the greatest existential challenge of our time.” He further specified that “we must take urgent steps” toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons as well. A clear and purposeful way to start the day’s discussion.

Ms. Epinosa, President of the UN General Assembly, called upon the international community, especially the nuclear-armed States. to engage in 'innovative discussions on practical measures' and to advance 'fresh ideas and political will to make a difference.' She further emphasized the importance for the international community to support the Secretary-General’s disarmament agenda.

The Non-Aligned Movement

On behalf of the NAM, Venezuela emphasized the need for the international community to support a high-level conference, which would review progress on nuclear disarmament. It further explained that “so long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of their use will persist.” Moreover, he contended that nuclear weapons violate the UN Charter and nuclear weapons constitute a crime against humanity.  Finally, the NAM reiterated that the use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences, he added.


Amongst the European States, Austria and Liechtenstein were present. Austria is a leader in the TPNW and has made disarmament one of its top national policy priorities.  Consequently, it urged other states to ratify the TPNW. Austria further asserted that due to the ongoing modernization of nuclear weapons and advancements of national arsenals, nuclear weapons are currently more dangerous than ever before.

Similarly, Lichtenstein expressed deep concern in the slowing pace of decisive progress towards disarmament and contended that the TPNW is the only source of optimism at the moment. They urged the international community to break the recent trends in nuclear modernization and to instead pursue a disarmament agenda.

Arab and Middle East

On behalf of the Arab Group, Oman expressed their belief in the necessity of reviving multilateral efforts to secure a “nuclear-weapon-free” future. In addition, it urged the international community to strive for the creation of a WMDFZ within the Middle East as stipulated in the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and reaffirmed in final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference  Furthermore, it explained that Israel has become an obstacle to attaining these goals within the Middle East, due to its lack of willingness to cooperate with Arab states and refusal to accede to the NPT.

Egypt endorsed the Arab Group’s statement. It conveyed strong opposition to the increasing reliance of nuclear weapons in the foreign and military policies of nuclear states, claiming that “security of nuclear states” is no excuse for militarization as this threatens the security of non-nuclear states. Egypt also stated that a slow and gradual step-by-step process is not going to yield definitive results and instead called upon all states to revive their efforts and take full, irreversible, and verifiable steps towards denuclearization.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Jordan echoed similar sentiment within their respective statements.  For instance, Saudi Arabia supplemented these points with their opposition to even peaceful uses of nuclear energy, especially by Iran, claiming that they must be held accountable to safety regulations that affect the entirety of the region.

Iran, understandably, presented a boisterous argument against the United States for actions regarding its unwillingness to stand by the points laid out within the JCPOA as well as within the UNSC resolution 2231, a security council resolution that legally endorsed the JCPOA. Iran countered that the United States, by engaging in sanctions which present noncompliance toward the JCPOA and the UNSC Resolution 2231, the ties, which bind all parties have started to fray and will eventually break; thus causing fragile, if not disruptive international relations between the United States and everyone party to the the JCPOA.

Iran also reaffirmed its allegiance to the NPT and vehemently urges other nations to sign and ratify the NPT as well. Iran also criticized Israel for being the only state in the region, which has not acceded to the NPT. It further conveyed its concerns about both Israel’s opacity policy and its perceived nuclear deterrence policy.

African Group

Similarly, on behalf of the African Group, Madagascar. welcomed the TPNW. The group further called upon all states to take into consideration the severe effect the weapons have on human health as well as for all states to “seize this opportunity” and ratify the TPNW. Additionally, the African Group mentioned whether "we could for a brief moment ponder, about the world we will leave for our children?”

Latin American and Caribbean states

Amongst this regional group, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Brasil, Cuba, Guatemala, Venezuela, Guyana, Peru, and Uruguay underscored the importance of nuclear disarmament. In particular, Costa Rica, which chaired the 2017 negotiations on the TPNW, underscored the necessity for states to support the TPNW. It also resolutely stated that “ We will not rest until we free the world of this terrible nuclear nightmare because we hold dear a world free of nuclear weapons.  

Building upon Costa Rica’s statement, Mexico explained that the threat and use of nuclear weapons are illegal under international humanitarian law.  It further recalled its commitments to nuclear weapons free zones (nwfzs).

Cuba also expressed historical points within the story of its own nation’s development relating to their battle for denuclearization. Moreover, Venezuela underscored its strong commitments to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. It further expressed dismay about the slow pace of nuclear weapons. It further mentioned that nuclear weapons must be immediately eliminated in order to remove the Damocles’ nuclear sword that hangs over humanity. Finally,Venezuela emphasized its strong support to NWFZs; consequently, in this context, it called for the creation of a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

Central Asia

Concerning Central Asian states, Kazakhstan proclaimed that it actively contributes to nuclear free zones, wants to focus efforts also on cyber crimes which seem to have a connection to Weapons of Mass Destruction and are planning on ratifying the TPNW treaty. Kyrgyzstan . Kyrgyzstan reaffirmed the importance of multilateral nuclear disarmament measures. In this regards, it acknowledged the work of civil society and the UN in helping both the region and the world to move closer towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Considering Kyrgyzstan’s positive views, it is imperative for it to sign the TPNW as soon as possible.   Kyrgyzstan has yet to sign the TPNW treaty.

Northeast Asia

Regarding Northeast Asia, Japan expressed support for a step-by-step approach towards nuclear disarmament. In essence, it underscored its long-standing policy on nuclear disarmament and emphasized a need for both the nuclear states and non-nuclear weapons to collaborate together..

Unfortunately, despite the strong positions held amongst the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Hibakusha on the TPNW, Japan refused to support the TPNW. It is simply regrettable that Japan deliberately chose not to mention the TPNW.

Pacific Islands

In terms of the Pacific States, both Palau and Samoa touched upon the legacy of nuclear testing in the region, which motivated them to sign and ratify the TPNW. Both states are members of the Rontagona Treaty, which established the NWFZ in the South Pacific.

Unfortunately, the Marshall Islands, a state where the US tested its nuclear weapons, explicitly mentioned that it will not sign the TPNW. It will continue to “study” the treaty. It further expressed grave concerns about the TPNW’s provisions on victims assistance. The RMI erroneously believes that the provision about victims assistance places undue burden onto them and other affected states. This is simply not true as highlighted by ICAN and the Harvard Human Rights Law Clinic.  The RMI is relying on this argument because it is still worried that the TPNW violates its COMPACT agreement with the US. However, in a recent study by both ICAN and the Harvard Human Rights Law Clinic, it is possible for RMI to sign the agreement and remain in compliance with its obligations under the COMPACT agreement with the US

Nuclear Armed States

China reiterated its No-First-Use Policy and underscored a “pragmatic step-by-step approach towards establishing a world free of nuclear weapons.” This incremental process could take several long decades.

India supports negotiations in the CD and desires to engage in a global framework that is nondiscriminatory. - India mentioned the FMCT in the CD, a bs response i might add.They also gave importance to the United Nations resolution 1299.

Pakistan mentioned its alliance with the non-aligned movement and in 1978 affirmed that complete abolishment of nuclear weapons is the solution.


The Holy See underscored the importance of  the TPNW and declared that (noted is too weak) it as an “important step towards a nuclear free world.” The Holy See signed it and ratified it “on the very day it was opened for signature on the 20th of September 2017.” The Holy See further  urged all states “to make the “Nuclear Test Ban Treaty a reality by ensuring its entry into force.”

The ICRC stated that that even a minimal amount of nuclear damage would have catastrophic effects on human health, the environment, the climate, food production, and socioeconomic development. It further explained  the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a a “historical achievement signaling the determination of a large majority of states.” Finally, it called on all states to sign and ratify on the TPNW. .

At the end of the event, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, delivered a strong statement in which it reiterated that a vast majority of states adopted the TPNW. Since the historic adoption of the treaty, there has been tremendous progress towards its entry into force.

In addition to mentioning the importance of the TPNW, ICAN reminded states that strategically deployed nuclear weapons pose a grave danger to everyone. ICAN further mentioned that nuclear weapons undermine the sustainable development goals; and therefore, nuclear weapons must be banned once and for all.  

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Nobel Peace Prize: Past, Present, and Future

Nobel Peace Prize: Past, Present, and Future

By Alei Rizvi and Andrew Sokulski

On September 17th, International Peace Institute (heretofore abbreviated as IPI) convened “Nobel Peace Prize: Past, Present, and Future” was held by the International Peace Institute. The speaker, Asle Toje, a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, spoke about the prize, its history, its significance, and its reverberations. Terje Rød-Larsen, the President of the International Peace Institute, moderated the event.

Per the standard flow of history, he explained the origins of the Nobel Prize. Upheld as a prize for the elite, intellectual, and difficult to enter circles of societies in the popular conscious, the speaker explained how Alfred Nobel was not part of the richest percent of his society. As he explained, Alfred Nobel was born into the lower echelons of the Swedish aristocracy. He had always been an inventor and dreamer. In contrast to the belief that Alfred Nobel ought to have been a pacifist, he was actually not one at all. Nobel was involved in the oil and armament trade and moved from Stockholm to St. Petersburg to pursue it. Nobel is believed to have said that “Where I work is my home, and my home is anywhere.” Such is evident within his life as he had also moved to Italy as well.

Progressing to explaining the present moment, Toje mentioned how the nobel prize seeks to build fraternity amongst nations and give recognition to those who create the preconditions for such harmony to exist. In this sense, the award positively exemplifies Emmual Kant’s political philosophy on how states should behave with one another.

Toje also stated the policies regarding the handing out of the Nobel Peace Prize during this time, such as the fact that the committee is not necessarily obliged to award it every year. He mentioned that if the committee were to come to a situation in which it could not find an eligible candidate, or any suggested candidate, then the committee would not pick someone to award it to. However, given the present nature of how each year has turned out, the committee have has countless nominations and have found eligible recipients. With this mission in mind, the committee continus to search for eligible candidates and hopes to foster good-will amongst states.

After concluding his presentation on the Nobel Peace Prize’s history, significance and implications, Toje engaged in a enlightening question and answer session with the audience members. The session opened with an intriguing question from the moderator, Terje Rod-Larsen asked Mr. Toje to provide insights on the gender imbalance and overrepresentation of the Northern Hemisphere in the history of the award. Mr. Toje explained that the award was primarily considered for individuals in the fields of arbitration and diplomacy, specifically for international organizations like the League of Nations or the UN, fields that have historically been dominated by men. Mr. Toje asserted that this is an unfortunate truth but must be acknowledged in order to allow more opportunity for underrepresented groups in the future.

Additionally, many attendees asked if the committee considers the implications of awarding prizes to specific individuals, specifically if they considered the effects the prize would have on constituents of world leaders rather than on the leaders themselves. Mr. Toje assured the audience that the prize could not guarantee peace, but often encourages leaders to move towards a peace that would benefit everyone. He used the example of former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, claiming that awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 encouraged him to resolve the conflict between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with a renewed spirit.

Mr. Toje was often confronted with the controversial subject of potentially revoking an awarded prize in response to actions that threaten peace, particularly in regards to the unpopular award to Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar. Toje implied that the Committee was very unlikely to revoke an award, due to the dangerous precedent it would set, as there are many unpopular recipients of the award. He further claimed that the awards are given for actions that recipients have done in the past to promote peace and to encourage them to continue promoting peace in the future, but cannot hold them accountable or ensure that they will continue.

Although confronted with many challenging and contentious questions, Mr. Toje often chose to respond vaguely or not at all, as he was obligated not to discuss certain subjects, as there is a confidentiality agreement on discussions of the past fifty years. Thus, his discussion was limited to only publicly disclosed information.

Despite this restriction, the presentation and engagement with the audience were undoubtedly very illuminating and offered immense insight into the significance of the Nobel Peace Prize.



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Int'l Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

PEAC Visits the UN in NYC for the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

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The Culture of Sustaining Peace

International Peace Institute's Policy Forum: The Culture of Sustaining Peace

By Hailey Payea

On September 5th, I attended the annual International Peace Institute’s (IPI) Policy Forum. This year, it co-hosted the forum with the Al-Babtain Foundation in order to discuss “The Culture of Sustaining Peace”. The culture of sustaining peace is especially important with today’s aggressive political rhetoric.

With the convening of the seventy-third session of the General Assembly on September 18th, the idea of political weaponry and the question of how to move forward in the world has come to the forefront of our minds.

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is steadily approaching and leads us to answer the question of how to analyze peace culture today. It is difficult to imagine a world that can live without the weaponry that is used as a secure threat. However, the panelists mentioned methods they believe to be useful in developing a world that solves conflicts rather than instigating them.

The forum began with Abdul Aziz Saud Al-Babtain, the founder of the Al-Babtain Foundation. Mr. Al-Babtain discussed war and the principle of how to avoid it. He explained that he wishes to propose the Culture of Sustainable Peace Plan in order to cooperate with actors and to define the concept of the culture of peace. He encouraged the participants to ponder about the concept of peace as linked to necessary actions, resources, and ourselves as well.

After his closing remarks, Al-Babtain pointed out that he had brought his entire family and explained how we should all bring something to the table when it comes to finding mutuality in a world of conflict. Mr. Al-Babtain left the podium and opened the floor to Mr. Kevin Rudd.

Mr. Rudd introduced the panel: H.E. Ambassador Tareq Md. Ariful Islam, Deputy Representative of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the UN; H.E. Ambassador Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative to the United Kingdom to the UN; Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination and UN Executive Office of the Secretary General; and Mr. Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair to IPI

Kevin Rudd opened the panel, discussing the psychology of politics. He began the discussion by opening with a question: is there anyway that, as humans, we could live in a purely peaceful society. He essentially asked the question that brought us all to the International Peace Institute: “What is peace culture and how can we achieve it?”

Following Mr. Rudd’s discussions, Mr. Islam explained that there is a traditional approach to peace, by meaningful engagement of peace building from national ownership. He left his speech open to action and called for the return of displaced peoples to their homes and families.

After Mr. Ariful Islam, H.E. Ambassador Pierce explained, “We live in an environment, where peace is fundamental and we forget cultures that do not have the same experience.” Her perspective focused on three elements. The first was inclusivity and strategizing to be more inclusive to minorities and adversaries. The second was calling for accountable institutions to create equal access in order to ease political tension. The last point emphasized human, economic and social rights. H.E. Ambassador further Pierce noted that this was especially important on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Once Ms. Pierce finished, Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild delivered the last speech in which he underscored that “peace is a collective state of mind.” He clarified his point by stating that in order to achieve real peace, we must humanize the enemy.

Mr. Hochschild reflected on an event where sixty victims of conflict from all sides in Havana were brought together to negotiate peace and share their experiences. These victims did not see each other as family members, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers. They saw one another as symbols of oppressive states and therefore dehumanized the other side. This event looked beyond the simplifications and dehumanization that characterizes the propaganda that comes with warfare, and in many cases, too often succeeds it.

Each speaker brought a fantastic perspective to the theory of peace. We are allowed to question methods and ideas that bring peace to the forefront of our minds. There are ways to implement peace in our day-to-day lives. By living kindly and understanding, we are able to address peace daily. In Mr. Hochschild’s words, this humanization of peace allows us to bring peace into our own hands. Too often we have to make the decision of basic human instinct: the fight or flight mentality. When it comes to interstate relations, no longer should states see one another as adversaries. By surrounding new generations in a world of peace, we can normalize peace into our culture.

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UNSC Meeting on Maintaining International Peace and Security

UN Security Council Meeting on Maintaining International Peace and Security


UNSC 8/29


Maintaining International Peace and Security


By: Laura Agosto


On August 29th, the UNSC received briefings from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and Peace Activist Mossarat Qadeem. After receiving briefings on pressing issues regarding maintaining international peace and security, Member states discussed methods to involve women and youth in peace operations.


  • Opening Statements
  1. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations noted that as wars become more complex, mediation techniques must also improve. He noted how creativity and cooperation are essential characteristics for successful mediation, noting the success of mediation when UN Special Envoys engaged with local civil society groups. The Secretary-General observed important developments in the growing roles women and youth are playing in mediating otherwise impossible conflicts. Secretary-General Guterres called upon the UNSC to show a united front, as to signal to warring parties that they must settled their disputes peacefully.
  2. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and Member of High Level Advisory Board on Mediation emphasized the importance of reconciliation networks as a means to creating long-lasting peace. He emphasized the importance of grassroots organizations in partaking in peace negotiations, because they play the most consequential role in maintaining peace.
  3. Mossarat Qadeem, Peace Activist and Co-Founder of PAIMAN Alumni Trust highlighted women’s effective use of soft power and how women can use their personal connections to their households and communities to successfully mediate conflicts.
  • Statements from Permanent UNSC Members


  • United States


The United States recognized the effectiveness of mediation, but noted that even the most skilled mediators cannot compel actors to reach peaceful solutions. The United States called on Member States to be willing to use strong tools to push warring parties to the negotiating table.


  • United Kingdom


The United Kingdom noted the progress the United Nations has made in professionalizing mediation. More broadly, the United Kingdom stated that mediation must be properly resourced, and that women should and must have an equal role as local and national leaders and decision-makers.


  • France


France emphasized mediation as an essential tool of conflict resolution as provided by Chapter 6 of the UN Charter. France noted the recent success of mediation in states like Gambia, implying this success can be reproduced in other conflict-ridden states.


  • Russian Federation


Taking an economics viewpoint, the Russian Federation cites benefits mediation has over peacekeeping or sanctions that hinder development. The Russian Federation urges the UN to divide mediation tasks evenly, cautioning against monopolizing mediation efforts to achieve political goals.


  • China


China cites the UN Charter as a framework to engage in peaceful dispute settlement through political and diplomatic means.

  • Statements from Other UNSC Members


  • Europe


Poland called for enhanced mediation capacity of the UN, and noted the crucial involvement of civil society to design, implement, and monitor peace solutions.


The Netherlands described prevention as the core of United Nations work. Because of complex conflicts facing the international community, the Netherlands stated the UN is uniquely placed to provide coordination among multiple peace actors to reach peaceful settlements.


Sweden cited women’s participation in mediation as not a women’s issue, but an issue of peace and security. Sweden urged the Council to stand united in support UN mediation efforts and to involve women, religious, and youth groups in these processes.  



  • Latin American and Caribbean Group


Bolivia has always and will continue to support the use of peaceful dispute settlement. Bolivia praised the work of the High Level Advisory Board on Mediation organized by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.


Peru welcomed the creation of the High Level Advisory Board, but stressed that the international community must actively support the development and strengthening of mediation capacities.  



  • Central Asian Group


Recalling ts inclusion of women, religious, and youth groups in brokering Syria peace talks and the Iran nuclear, Kazakhstan called for an inclusion approach to mediation from all UNSC Member States.


  • Middle East


Kuwait expressed dissatisfaction with high UNSC spending on peacekeeping operations, arguing that those resources should be redirected to mediation efforts instead.


  • African States


Equatorial Guinea spoke on behalf of itself, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ethiopia, and called for UNSC member-states to act more proactively to fund mediation appropriately. Citing complex challenges to international security, Equatorial Guinea noted the scope of mediation is too large for the UN to tackle on its own. Equatorial Guinea called for additional support to local mediation partners to assure successful, long-term peaceful solutions.

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Remembering the Hibakusha and Their Impact on Nuclear Disarmament

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Take the Pledge!