Needed: A Global Movement for Nuclear Disarmament


David Adams | Transition to a Culture of Peace – TRANSCEND Media Service

1 Jul 2022 – The world faces many dangers at this moment of history, famines, global warming, wars in the Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, mass migrations, increasing electoral tendencies towards fascism. But all these are pale in comparison to the danger of a nuclear World War III which could put an end to all of these problems by a suicidal destruction of all human civilization.

As UN Secretary-General recently said, referring to the confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Ukraine, “The once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility.”

If we look for a solution from the nuclear powers, it seems hopeless. According to the new SIPRI report, the nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea —continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals. There is no sign that any of them are even considering the possibility of eliminating their nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, the non-nuclear countries are developing a strategy for nuclear disarmament. As described in this month’s bulletin of CPNN, the meeting this month in Ulaanbaatar for nuclear-free zones (NWFZ) and the meeting in Vienna of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) both proposed contributions to this strategy.

There are now five nuclear-free zones with 116 states that have committed to ban the manufacture, deployment and transit of nuclear weapons through their territories preventing thus proliferation of nuclear weapons in those concrete regions. Currently the idea of establishing of a Middle East NWFZ is under consideration. Informal exchanges of views and ideas to establish a Northeast Asian NWFZ and a zone in the Arctic are also being discussed.

At their meeting in Vienna, the States Parties to the TPNW welcomed Cabo Verde, Grenada, and Timor-Leste who deposited their instruments of ratification, which brings the number of TPNW states parties to 65. Eight more states told the meeting that they were in the process of ratifying the treaty: Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Mozambique, Nepal and Niger.

The Vienna meeting adopted an Action Plan with 50 specific actions for taking forward the mission of the Treaty, including the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Group to advance research on nuclear weapon risks, their humanitarian consequences, and nuclear disarmament, and to address the scientific and technical challenges involved in effectively implementing the Treaty, and provide advice to states parties.

In addition to the initiatives of the NWFZ and TPNW countries, there continue to be initiatives by cities around the world. Of special importance last month were calls for nuclear disarmament by cities in the the United States and in Western Europe, including the nuclear-armed countries of France and the United Kingdom.

Can the initiatives of the NWFZ and TPNW countries be combined with those of cities in the nuclear-armed countries of the US and Europe? Can movements develop for nuclear disarmament in the other nuclear states of Russia, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea? The first three of these states are involved in the development of economic links (BRICS) free from the domination of the American Empire. Can the non-nuclear states of BRICS (Brazil and South Africa) add the issue of nuclear disarmament to their agenda?

The biggest obstacle to nuclear disarmament is the UN Security Counci which is completely dominated by nuclear-armed states with their powers of veto. How can it be reformed to escape from this nuclear domination?

The increased spending on the military by all of the nuclear powers, greatest in the case of the United States, runs the risk of their economic and political collapse; could this provide a window of opportunity for such a UN reform?

As I have previously suggested, can we develop a virtual alternative security council composed of mayors from around the world to issue press releases and raise consciousness that a nuclear-free world is possible. Perhaps, a variant of this proposal could be developed that involves the NWFZ and TPNW countries.

All of these questions should be on the agenda of a global movement for nuclear disarmament. There is nothing more important for the future of our species and our planet.


Dr. David Adams is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace.  Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence. Send him an email.

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