On Wednesday, October 11, Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies students Ellis Clay ‘25, Antje Hipkins ’24, and Jasmine Cintrón Soto ’25 delivered statements to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, a forum focused on global disarmament and international security.
Clay, Hipkins, and Cintrón Soto are interns at Dyson College’s International Disarmament Institute, and, under the advisement of Associate Professor Emily Welty, PhD, engage directly with the UN General Assembly First Committee and with civil society organizations.
Clay’s statement (PDF) was drafted by students in Professor of Political Science Matthew Breay Bolton’s (PhD) Global Politics of Disarmament and Arms Control course. Through consultation with 70 civil society organizations and coalitions around the world, including two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Abdulla AlSuwaidi ‘25, Finance (Lubin), Elena Bater ’25, Peace and Justice Studies, Victoria Klioutchnikov ’25, Global Marketing Management (Lubin), Ke Luo (Luke) ‘24, Political Science, Gianna Matteo ‘26, Arts and Entertainment Management (Lubin), Chandler Murphy ‘24, Political Science, and Daniel Welden ’26, Political Science, helped prepare the testimony, which centered around youth inclusion and disarmament education.
“We the youth have the most to gain from a future that is peaceful, just, inclusive, prosperous and environmentally sustainable,” said Clay in the statement. “But rather than repeating clichés that ‘youth are the future,’ please see that we are here now. We are at the frontlines of social movements calling for disarmament, human rights, climate action, and an end to police brutality.”
Clay hopes the statement will illustrate his generation's passion in advocating on this topic. He said, "I hope when others read or hear the speech, they take away that youth voices are strong, and they will be heard when it comes to disarmament because we need this current generation and the next to be pushing for not only an end to nuclear weapons, lethal autonomous weapons, but all weapons that in its use stand in direct violation of international humanitarian law."
Hipkins, whose internship placement is with Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, delivered a statement focused on gender, intersectionality, and disarmament that was co-signed by 17 civil society organizations.
In Hipkins's statement (PDF), she noted that “The patterns of harm caused by weapons and war, the diversity of people participating in disarmament processes, and the norms, discourse, and analysis of militarism” all have gendered implications, adding that “diversity is essential for challenging socially constructed norms about identity that impact the approach of diplomats, activists, and academics to weapons and militarism.”
Speaking at the UN was particularly meaningful on a personal level for Hipkins, who said, "When I first moved to New York City, my family and I stayed at the hotel across the street from the UN. You could see the Secretariat building from the window of our room. I’d always dreamed of working at the UN in some capacity, and so being able to deliver a statement with fellow Pace students at my side, especially in my last semester, felt like a really full circle moment for me."
Cintrón Soto's statement (PDF) focused on the “use of cyberspace for peaceful purposes.” Speaking on behalf of ICT4Peace and eight other organizations, she emphasized, “The Internet and connected devices are being weaponized in ways that negatively impact on human rights, such as through surveillance, hacking, censorship, and intentional disruption of internet services and access.”
On the experience, Cintrón Soto said, "Being a student meant representing the dreams and voices of my peers, advocating for transparency and change. As a Latina, I emphasized the importance of diverse voices in shaping a more inclusive and equitable world. Ultimately, I look forward to seeing more strong and powerful Pace students use opportunities like these to amplify their voice and know that meaningful change is possible."
Pace students speaking at the United Nations has become a mainstay in the Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies programs, providing students real-life opportunities to advocate on globally significant issues. Additionally, The International Disarmament Institute, co-directed by Bolton and Welty, is becoming a space of world-class education and research, and plays a convening role in support of disarmament policymaking, from humanitarian, human rights and environmental perspectives. Pace’s contributions to promoting the involvement of young people in disarmament forums were featured in a report this year by the UN Secretary-General.