Japanese student peace ambassadors are unlikely to deliver a speech at this year’s disarmament conference in Geneva due to vehement opposition from China and other countries, a U.N. diplomatic source said Monday.
If high school student ambassadors, candidates for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, are not allowed to speak at the conference, it would mark the second straight year they have been unable to do so after three years of speaking opportunities.
Last year, such students could not make a speech at the parley because China and other nations were opposed, saying the Conference of Disarmament is a venue for intergovernmental disarmament negotiations and does not allow nongovernmental parties to take part in principle.
Despite the murky prospects, a citizens group dispatching the young ambassadors plans to request a speech opportunity, while the Japanese delegation to the conference says it will give them a chance to speak as it did last year, even if they are unable to deliver a speech in the conference hall.
The high school student peace ambassador program was launched in 1998 after two high school students in Nagasaki, southwestern Japan, visited the United Nations headquarters in New York to bring signatures calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
A group of 20 student ambassadors to be selected for this year will submit collected signatures for nuclear disarmament to the secretariat of the Conference on Disarmament after arriving in Geneva on Aug. 28.
An official of the civic group arranging to send them said the students should be allowed to deliver a speech at the conference, adding, “It would be a valuable opportunity for the students to appeal for nuclear abolition.”