Thanks for visiting! Here are some of my recent activities…
Feb 17: After the visit to Parliament, we went to Webster University for an event that was covered by Austrian television and live streamed to 6,000 people. In this segment, I interviewed Ms. Gandhi about her grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, her experiences under apartheid, her activism, her views on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and her work via the Gandhi Development Trust.
Feb 17: Inside the ornate Federal Assembly Chamber of the Austrian Parliament, Ms. Gandhi started reminiscing about her meetings with Nelson Mandela in the South African Parliament… wow!
Feb 17: Wonderful to see Ela Gandhi again! During her years as a Parliamentarian in South Africa, she was integral in developing the country’s Constitution along with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was a treat taking her for a tour of the Austrian Parliament.
Feb 17: Spent the afternoon at the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) shooting a news segment about the reactions to Trump of US citizens living in Vienna. Was with a brilliant group of students working on advanced degrees in Human Rights.
Jan 17: Recently heard about Act.Now, which aims at finding cooperative solutions to the refugee crisis. This Austria-based initiative has heart, soul, and culture. Was honored to attend its third International Mayors’ Conference NOW Vienna, focused on ‘Children under the Radar.’ Here is the dramatic backdrop installation – symbolically made of life vests.
Jan 17: At the front (in yellow shirts) is an adorable group of young musicians who performed at the Act.Now conference. Some of these kids had a refugee-experience background. Just one example of the ‘heart, soul, and culture’ of this event.
Jan 17: Another photo of the International Mayors’ Conference NOW Vienna – this one showing a discussion about protecting the rights of displaced children. I was impressed by the Act.Now initiative – and really hope that great concepts such as this develop a shared, interactive online component to promote coordinated scaling.
Jan 17: I chaired one of the panels at the United Nations Vienna conference entitled ‘Toward Peace and Reconciliation in Conflict Zones – The Role of Religions.’ The conference was attended by 200 participants including UN diplomats, religious leaders, NGO representatives, and other members of civil society. Main topic areas included the war in Syria, the plight of refugees, and how to transform anger into forgiveness and positive action.
Jan 17: Yury Fedotov (Director-General of the UN Vienna) and Lassina Zerbo (Executive Secretary of the CTBTO) helped open the ACUNS conference.
Jan 17: Great mix of scientists, diplomats, students and other members of civil society talking about how to promote cooperation for the SDGs.
Dec 16: The 6th Prague Agenda Conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic debated Obama’s legacy regarding nuclear weapons. The conference was held in the same Czernin Palace room in which the Warsaw Pact was signed.
Dec 16: Inside the ATOM Museum, a former Soviet military base where Soviet nuclear weapons were reportedly stored during the Cold War.
Nov 16: To mark the International Day to eliminate Violence against Women, ACUNS-Vienna partnered on a “Femicide Watch” event with UNODC, OSCE and others aimed at systematizing data collection and analysis on gender-based violence, with a view to improving prevention and response mechanisms.
Nov 16: Part of the multidisciplinary team promoting this initiative to reduce violence against women and girls.
Nov 16: ACUNS-Vienna has taken a lead in raising awareness about gender-based violence; its latest FEMICIDE report focuses on girl refugees, displaced girls and migrant children, and the specific forms of violence and abuse occurring in the context of their flight. It’s available for free download here.
Oct 16: Grateful to receive this acknowledgment – Ambassador of Peace award from the Universal Peace Federation. Lovely honor, especially coming from Peter Haider, an activist for whom I have great respect.
Sep 16: I initiated an International Day of Peace conference at the UN Vienna. The goal was to underscore that weapons (and especially nuclear weapons) must be addressed when we talk about peace and sustainable development. Very grateful to Michael Platzer (ACUNS) and Peter Haider (UPF) for their great wisdom and cooperation in bringing this event to life.
Sep 16: Afternoon panel with two of the WWII witnesses and the respective Permanent Mission to the UN — with Ambassador Leigh Turner, UK Permanent Mission, Reiko Yamada, Japan, Fukuichiro Tanaka, Japan Permanent Mission and Hazel Richardson, England.
Sep 16: Our International Day of Peace event had heart and soul, and that was largely due to the presence of three female WWII witnesses (Hazel Richardson – UK, Rosina Wernig – Austria, Reiko Yamada – Japan). Here they are at the UN Peace Bell being serenaded by the Superar children’s orchestra playing ‘Ode to Joy.’
Sep 16: Hazel Richardson, Rosina Wernig, and Reiko Yamada ringing the UN Peace Bell with Aldo Lale-Demoz, UNODC Deputy Executive Director.
Sep 16: Two of the WWII witnesses (Hazel Richardson and Reiko Yamada) in the UN grounds. Also in the photo are Mark and Valerie Richardson and Tomotoshi Yamada.
Aug 16: Massive turnout for the ‘Building a Nuclear Weapon Free World‘ conference in Astana, Kazakhstan in August 2016. A who’s who of nuclear-disarmament figures participated, including parliamentarians, mayors, religious leaders, scholars, government representatives and civil society members. Alyn Ware and his Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament team largely organized the conference (photo from PNND).
Aug 16: A military person accompanying us to Ground Zero of the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan – measuring radiation levels with a handheld Geiger counter.
Aug 16: Lunch at the Semipalatinsk Test Site. To my left is Ela Ghandi, the former parliamentarian, peace activist, and granddaughter of Mahatma Ghandi. What a beautiful and inspiring soul. Also pictured are new friends: Rachel Carlsen, Carien Du Plessis and Alice Bromage.
May 16: I had the pleasure of attending Geneva’s Open-ended Working Group of the UN General Assembly focused on finding legal measures ‘to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.’ UNFOLD ZERO made an intervention regarding the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines. To my left is Alyn Ware, the Global Coordinator for PNND and co-founder of Abolition 2000, the Basel Peace Office and UNFOLD ZERO, among other groups.
May 16: At the OEWG, support grew for negotiation of a treaty banning nuclear weapons. A significant working paper, A/AC.286/WP.36, was submitted by 126 states which had endorsed the pledge originating at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2014.