Auspicious beginnings to exhaustive efforts

Arriving in Vienna for the NPT Prepcom I was struck by a few things

  • it’s warmer here than in Utrecht, it’s actually spring!
  • the apartment we rented is across the street from a wall mural- a painting of 3 kings
  • the next two weeks will be exhausting and thrilling.


It really hit me as I got out of the airport. Over the next two weeks my days will be filled with NGO meetings, with speeches and presentations, with government sessions and with lobbying. It is going to be hectic. It is going to be thrilling.

The warmth of the air, the sun shining down from a clear blue sky. These are the little bits of spring that I’ve missed living in the Netherlands. We haven’t had so much sun. We’ve had lots of rain, lots of gray skies, lots of cool weather. Here it is positively hot. It was nearly 26 degrees as I made my way to the S-Bahn. A small trickle of sweat dropped onto my suitcase as I dragged it through the city streets to find the place our team is staying.

We decided not to go for a hotel. Recognising the excellent public transportation options in this historic city, we took a less expensive option- one that also allows us to prepare our own food and keep some cold beer on hand. We booked two small apartments. As I was the first team member to arrive, I was responsible for picking up the keys. The building is still under construction, but that won’t matter as long as the construction crews don’t work on the weekends. Across the street is a lovely mural- the three kings. I’m not particularly superstitious, but I was born on three kings day (also called the epiphany) and the mural strikes me as a lucky sign.

A bit of luck, and a lot of patience is going to come in very handy over the course of this Prepcom. A bit of luck for governments to see that they’re ready to take the big steps they need to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear weapons ban. A lot of patience to keep a diplomatic smile while keeping the pressure on. A bit more patience and a bit more luck to keep my energy up as the next two weeks fly by in a blur of meetings.

There are some moments I’m really excited about. Meeting up with ICAN campaigners from around the world- seeing old friends and new faces. Getting together with Abolition 2000 network leaders- those who have never lost the faith that they are moving in the right direction for a nuclear weapons free world, and who keep reaching out and reaching up to address all the issues needed to bring that world into being. Seeing familiar diplomats from my time in Geneva, and meeting up with those who have moved on to new postings- including here in Vienna. Bridging the disarmament and non-proliferation gap through their career shifts.

It is going to be an exciting, and a hectic, few weeks. I’m glad that I’ll have the three kings to look at each morning as I make my way to the early NGO caucus meetings. Spring is here in Vienna, and a spring is in my step as I walk around to prepare for today’s first ICAN meeting.