At the end of July this summer, the 4th edition of the joint OSCE-UNODA Scholarship for Peace & Security: Training on Arms Control and Disarmament came to a close. I was among the fortune 150 candidates participating in the 2021 training programme, unfolding online over eight challenging and inspiring weeks.

The programme offers a chance to all motivated young professionals, aged between 22 to 32, to learn more about the conceptual as well as practical know-how of conflict prevention, peacebuilding, arms control and disarmament in the OSCE area. Emphasising the involvement of youth in the security sector, especially girls and young women, the scholarship constitutes a key opportunity to educate and support the next generation of peace-builders.

Snapshot from the 2019 in-person training in Vienna. Photo Credit: UNODA

As a recent graduate, I have been struggling to make my dream of working with peace and security issues come true amidst a global pandemic, side-by-side with the veritable ocean of highly skilled young professionals currently looking for a way in to a security sector that is still finding ways of ensuring inclusivity and diversity. When I came across the OSCE-UNODA training programme, I applied on a whim with little to no idea of what to expect – a decision I am now beyond grateful for!

A few weeks of reading, discussing, listening and learning, and I now feel more confident than ever in my aspiration to work with peace and security at the international level – and perhaps, one step closer to making it happen.

The scholarship proved transformational in so many ways – let me name a few.

For starters, it brings you into direct contact with experts and professionals with years of experience of everything from conflict and security building measures, crisis mitigation and non-proliferation, to disarmament and development, working within organisations such as the OSCE, UNODA, UN Women, CTBTO, VCDNP and the IAEA. The comprehensive materials and discussions provided through the eight different modules gave me an encyclopaedia of relevant concepts, international agreements, historical events and suggestions for action, connecting themes such as arms control and sustainable development, conflict prevention, cyber security and violent extremism, disarmament and gender equality.

Yet, the aspect that I will perhaps treasure the most is the number of incredible young professionals I have had the chance to get to know; a brilliant and engaged group of youths from across the world with whom to share thoughts and reflections, fears and hopes, experiences and aspirations – many of whom I will now follow closely and be inspired by through their professional development.

So, here’s to all of you out there seeking ways of adding to that early-career CV, acquiring more knowledge, building meaningful professional connections and friendships, or simply looking for inspiration on how to approach a sector that might feel out of reach – seize the moments like these!

The number of existing scholarships and training programmes like the OSCE-UNODA Scholarship for Peace and Security is vast and you would be surprised by how valuable they can turn out to be.

Keep track of the opportunities out there, and do not be afraid to apply! As the next generation of peace-builders, disarmers and critical thinkers, the world needs us.

In peace,

Nico Edwards

2021 Scholar for Peace & Security

Youth Fusion Co-Convenor

For anyone who’d like to get started asap – check out UNODA’s fantastic open access disarmament education platform here.

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