Speakers from across the world stopped by Penn's Perry World House on Tuesday evening to discuss the importance of denuclearization.
The event, called the Penn Peace Project, was hosted by the International Affairs Association. Speakers included Veronique Christory, Senior Arms Control Advisor of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Susanne Hammer, Austrian First Secretary Disarmament Officer, who touched on how nuclear weapons affect people's daily lives.
Hammer said coverage of recent diplomatic events, such as the Iran nuclear deal and the denuclearization efforts in North Korea, only reflect a small fraction of the possible consequences of a nuclear event.
Christory agreed, underlining the gravity of a potential nuclear conflict. “Most nations would be directly or indirectly affected by a nuclear conflict and the world would be fit with a humanitarian disaster of unimaginable scale to which no state or organization has the capacity to adequately respond,” she said.
Another speaker, Carlos Umana, President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Costa Rica, talked about the efforts that the United Nations is working towards disarmament.
“The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it was adopted last year by an overwhelming majority of UN member-states, is the international community's response to the ever increasing awareness of the impact of nuclear weapons and to the urgency of their elimination,” he said.
The symposium was hosted by the Academic Affairs branch of the IAA in collaboration with the PEAC Institute, a non-governmental organization based in New Jersey. PEAC had a connection with the speakers, who stopped in Philadelphia to talk to Penn students about disarmament.
“All of these speakers are actually coming to New York that week for the UN's first Committee on Disarmament,” said Pablo Golac, College senior and direct of the Academic Affairs branch of the IAA.
Some students who attended the event said they had never thought about nuclear disarmament as a practical goal that people were working towards.
“I think a lot of people don't really take nuclear disarmament seriously and especially in the realm of accidental nuclear disasters. It really put into perspective that it is a real and pressing issue that still is dynamic and evolving even in 2018,” College senior Eric Petersen said.
College freshman Michael Lin agreed. “Coming and meeting these diplomats, these lawyers, these experts in these areas, we see that there are legitimate people working in these areas to make sure that nuclear disarmament may be a reality.”
Christory emphasized the end goal of people working towards nuclear disarmament.
“The elimination of nuclear weapons is no longer a common goal, it is now more than ever an imperative necessity,” she said.
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