Meet the winners of the 2020 Creative Contest

The world is going through hard times as more countries come to realise they were ill prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the questions getting asked is how to be ready for the next catastrophe. It may be natural in origin yet if it is man-made, such as a nuclear explosion, there are no steps sufficient to meet it. To raise awareness about such a danger and to engage young creative minds with it Atomic Reporters invited CTBTO Youth Group members to submit their ideas to a project we called the Creative Contest. Atomic Reporters is grateful to all who responded and is looking forward to further engagement and discussion on this important issue. In the following, we give space to the winners of the Creative Contest to present themselves and the motivation behind their ideas.

Cristopher Cruz

I am a college student in the United States, and a passionate advocate of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. I am interested in the intersection of communications, policy, and activism surrounding nuclear disarmament. I am also the co-founder and director of outreach at NuclearFreeSchools.com and write on WordPress under the moniker, The Atomic Scholar.

My piece was directly inspired by the acts of generosity and cooperation done by several world leaders as acts of solidarity in these unprecedented times. Said inspiration is not to go unnoticed and definitely not to be glossed over, rather heavily reviewed to avoid having to fall back on a “what could have been” attitude should another incident occur. We are nowhere near being out of the woods with the current crisis, but we still have time to strengthen our relationships as nations, neighbors, friends, and family. Writing comes naturally to me and has been my outlet for relieving stress and anxiety, while other artistical and poetic formats exist, writing is the most soothing and rewarding method.

Jannis Kappelmann

Jannis Kappelmann studied Sociology, Politics and Economics in at Zeppelin University in Germany and Sun Yat-Sen University in China. The German citizen worked as a Political and Security Policy Advisor at the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations in New York and as a Carlo Schmid Fellow at the United Nations World Food Programme in Barbados. Jannis Kappelmann focuses on the role of norms in nuclear disarmament, gender and humanitarian perspectives on disarmament and the climate-security nexus. During his studies and professional activities, he received scholarships by the German Academic Exchange Society, the Leadership Excellence Institute Zeppelin and the ZF Friedrichshafen AG and is an ICAN Academy Alumnus. He is currently working as Covid-19 Containment Scout at Germanys Robert Koch Institute. In times of a global pandemic, his article should stress that disarmament is nevertheless important and show possible pathways for non-proliferation discussions.

Amanda Viktoravičiūtė

My name is Amanda. I’m originally from Lithuania and living there. What’s about my current occupation, I’m a final year student of the
European studies and Psychology minor studies also. My idea, mainly, came up in the regard to the security related issues around the world and raising the awareness of the CTBTO organization. As I’m drawing since my childhood, so thought that would be nice to create some ”art visuality” about the current situation.

Mónica Andrea Henao Castaño

Mónica Andrea Henao Castaño was born in Medellín, Colombia. She graduated in Social Psychology and has a Master’s in clinical, legal and forensic psychology from the Complutense University of Madrid UCM. She hopes to be able to continue her master’s studies in Peace, Security and Defense in the near future and, subsequently, to obtain a PhD in international security.

In response to the call, “What would happen if #Corona was #Nuclear?”, Mónica came up with the idea of reinforcing and strengthening the premise that “all culture is communication” regardless of language, and that the CTBTO cares about multilingualism. She submitted her opinion on preventive measures, such as the CTBTO, and other nuclear non-proliferation measures that should be taken to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. The idea comes from visualizing a daily conversation, in a community “X”, in which questions and answers are generated about international peace and security.

The need then arises to issue a wake-up call to policy makers, scientists and security specialists concerned with the impact of emerging technologies on the development of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and the capabilities of terrorists in general. The message is conveyed and with it the ultimate need to immediately and aggressively pursue the ratification by States of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to make the rules binding, to ensure that violations are punished and to ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon.

Daniyar Egen

“You know, I don’t get what democracy is because I am from Iran. Here you cannot fight against politicians or make complaints.”

Anonymous student from Iran in Hamburg

The roaring twenties started out with a terrifying murder of Maj. Gen. Quassim Soleimani. An Iranian general, a leader of the so called Quds force –  a group believed to be terroristic by the U.S, Canada and some neighbouring countries.

It was terrifying in the sense that the minds of many were crossed with a thought that this was the start of a new world proxy war, which could mean the intervention of countries possessing nuclear weaponry.

In light of recent events the new conflict arises, even if our focus on this new conflict may have been distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It requires us to remember though, that the coronavirus will subside some day. The danger of nuclear disaster, however, always remains as long as states possess them. 

I have interviewed students (of both sexes, ages from 18-28) from an institution where I am studying working now, to see what personal stories they might provide in order to understand what some Iranian youth think about  nuclear weapons overall, and war. 

Needless to say all of the students agree how complex it is, in spite  because of the current Iranian political situation to find clear answers to the questions, considering disarmament politicians have been trying to answer for decades. When asked about the social climate, the young adults (students) remembered extreme poverty in Iran, which makes people a little overlooking of the political situation.  

However, opinions on conflict were at quite a personal level, as one of the students lost his brother it. 

Views on nuclear weapons were diametrically opposed some students stating they should be banned, in the name of people who suffer from sanctions being imposed on Iran. As it is widely believed that Iran does possess nuclear weaponry, certain states impose economic sanctions making the life of civilians more difficult and making Iran appear as a dangerous state in the international society.

Others, in spite of this, told me that nuclear weapons are a message not only of power, but also a promise that if a war should ever take place, it would be over fast;  no one wants a long war, as the citizens are simply tired of the tensions surrounding the previous and future political conflicts. 

There was unity in opinion about the current regime. The students  agreed that the government should be friendlier on the international arena and how the regime of the Islamisation, as well as outside of Iran puts in danger diplomatic attempts of building strong connections.

Kseniia Nepeina

Kseniia Nepeina, Junior scientific researcher, Research Station of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RS RAS); The International Research Center – Geodynamic Proving Ground (IRC-GPG); Member of the CTBTO Youth Group (CYG) since 2016. Member of the AGU, SSA, EAGE geophysical societies.

Country of origin – Russian Federation / country of residence – Kyrgyzstan
Through my CYG activity I participated in Moscow CYG meeting (2017), Alma-Ata X International Conference “Monitoring of nuclear tests and their consequences” (2018), Vienna Expert Meeting (2019), and Moscow Nonproliferation Conference (on November 7-9, 2019).

I was at the museum Military History Museum “Ilyinsky Frontiers” near Kaluga city just before the lockdown started. I was thinking what the future museums, heritage and legacy we keep for the next generation? The honor for the memory is obvious. On the one hand, arms control could restrain the terror of a nuclear attack, but the war and army instruments are so grim. My piece of work tells: “Let’s prevent disaster, and we get disarmament, Let’s decrease death through denuclearization”. The choice for the media I used was made due to the CTBTO Youth Group announcement. 

Shereen Nanish

A journalist and emerging filmmaker based in Jordan. Interested in digital media, documentaries and media literacy. Worked in the field of media with several local and international outlets and organizations. 

I came up with the idea because I believe in the role of the media in changing societies and raising awareness on important issues, some of which are the risks to our own existence, such as nuclear weapons, climate change and pandemics. I chose the form of video because image is powerful and in such unprecedented times, we more than ever need to address people’s both minds and hearts to motivate them to learn and take action.

Didier Birimwiragi Namogo

I’m Didier Birimwiragi Namogo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’m one of the participants to the creative contest. As you said in your e-mail that I’m the winner in the category Best of Written of the Atomic Reporters’ Creative Contest 2020, I thank you very much for the selection you made to my piece of work.

I have already read on the internet the story of the Atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two historical Japanese cities.

At the Science and Diplomacy symposium organized by CTBTO in 2018, I had the chance to watch a film about scenarios that a nuclear explosion can cause.

These two situations had greatly upset my thinking, reflecting how a nuclear explosion is very destructive, destroying man and his entire environment, yet it is man himself who makes them.

Compared to Covid-19, seeing all the devastation that this pandemic is causing, and how some leaders of developed countries did not draw their great attention to this disease just when it began to appear, I realized that I had to write something that could inspire me to show how very important the work of monitoring nuclear tests is in saving humanity from the actions of people in bad faith.

I am sure that this message that I had submitted to Atomic Reporters is a very important one and can help the leaders of the world’s countries to see how important it is to support the work of monitoring nuclear testing around the world.

I’m a research scientist. I’m not a filmmaker or an activity reporter. Hence for me, the writing media is easier than the drawing or video or photo media, because I am more skilled at writing than at producing these other types of work.  My work as a scientist trains me much more to write and less to make videos or drawings.