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The humanitarian imperative for nuclear disarmament: overcoming the barriers

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As the world becomes increasingly interdependent, our understanding of security is undergoing fundamental change. A more complex idea of human security is replacing out-dated paradigms based on national self interest and military defence. Strengthening human security lies at the core of modern arguments for prohibiting and abolishing nuclear weapons, and this is pragmatic, humanitarian and internationalist. In recent years concerted action led by civil society and some enlightened governments stigmatized landmines and cluster munitions as inhumane weapons to drive forward negotiations to prohibit their use, deployment, manufacture and trade. As the 2010 Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) demonstrated, growing numbers of NGOs and governments now want to apply humanitarian-based approaches to the problems of nuclear weapons, widely considered the most inhumane of all, while also carrying strategic importance in current perceptions, especially for the nuclear weapon states. Dr Rebecca Johnson’s presentation will consider these developments and discuss strategies to recast nuclear armaments as inhumane and unusable liabilities, with the objective of paving the way for negotiations on a treaty that would ban them, as other inhumane weapons have been banned.

Dr Rebecca Johnson is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy in London. From 2004 to 2006, she served as a senior advisor to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission chaired by Dr Hans Blix.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Student Pugwash Society Talks series.

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