OSCE – UNODA Scholarship for Peace and Security Vienna Seminar Opening Session Welcome Remarks

Participants of the 2022 OSCE - UNODA Scholarship for Peace and Security Training Programme. (Photo. Micky Kroell/OSCE)

OSCE – UNODA Scholarship for Peace and Security – Vienna Seminar Opening Session Welcome Remarks

Delivered by Shannon Simrell, U.S. Helsinki Commission Representative to USOSCE 
November 7, 2022  

Good morning, Madam Secretary General, excellencies, colleagues.   

And congratulations to you, the young OSCE – UNODA Scholars for Peace and Security whose achievements bring us together today.  I recognize the dedication and commitment it has taken each of you – including a few from my own country –   to be here today and I warmly welcome you to Vienna.   

As a donor to the scholarship program and as a Co-Chair of OSCE’s Group of Friends and Youth and Security, the Unites States is proud to promote youth engagement in the security field, including in the areas of arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament.  As we have heard here this morning, young people, but especially young women remain vastly underrepresented in security discussions but through programs such as this, OSCE and UNODA are helping to correct this.   

OSCE is the world’s largest, regional security organization and its comprehensive concept of security recognizes youth as essential stakeholders whose perspectives and needs must be integrated into OSCE’s work and into our respective, national policies.   

Unfortunately, today’s celebration of our shared commitment to youth and this demonstration of our investment in the peaceful future of our region takes place in the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.  As we build, Russia destroys.  As we invest, the Putin regime kills Ukrainians and wastes the lives of a generation of its own young people.  As we cultivate community of young arms control and non-proliferation experts, Russia threatens nuclear war.     

So, my warm welcome to you this morning is not mere words: I truly am glad that you are here – we are glad that you are here – because OSCE, participating States, and the European security order need you and your expertise.  Today.  Tomorrow.  And until we have achieved comprehensive and sustainable peace in our region and accountability for those who make a mockery of their commitments.  Your participation is essential.  

In closing, I wish each of you success as you enter this capstone phase of this scholarship program.  I congratulate you on your accomplishments to date and look forward to your future contributions on these important issues.