Oslo Conference Considers Humanitarian Dimensions of Nuclear Weapons

The debate about nuclear weapons control remains dominated by the Cold War ‘national security’ discourses that depoliticize the tremendous killing power of nukes by telling us that ordinary people should leave decisionmaking to a technocratic elite — the so-called ‘nuclear priesthood.’ This means any attempts to widen the discussion beyond the tight control of the miltitary establishments in the great powers have generally been swatted away with obtuse rationalizations.

However, in the last few years, campaigners for nuclear disarmament have been inspired by the approach of the landmine and cluster munition campaigns, which reframed the discussion to include humanitarian considerations including casualties and impact on public health, education, agriculture, refugee return and economic development. This opened up space for civilians, survivors, aid workers, and health professionals to contribute to policymaking efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of these weapons. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), launched in 2007, has adopted this approach, highlighting the “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental harm” that would result from the use of nuclear weapons.

Last week, 127 governments gathered in Oslo, Norway to consider the humanitarian dimensions of nuclear weapons. In the discussions, according to ICAN, “A wide range of governments and organizations agreed that an understanding of the global humanitarian consequences of nuclear detonations should be the starting point for urgent action to ban nuclear weapons.”

For further analysis of the conference, read this excellent blog post from 4disarmament.org.


~ by Matthew Bolton on 11 March 2013.

One Response to “Oslo Conference Considers Humanitarian Dimensions of Nuclear Weapons”

  1. Reblogged this on kjmhoffman.

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