The Future of Nuclear Disarmament: Is Global Zero Still Possible?

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US nuclear weapons test at Bikini in 1946. Creator: US Government. This image is licensed under Creative Commons License

Amidst Russia’s war in Ukraine and the willingness of governments to increase military spending also for their nuclear arsenals, discussions around nuclear weapons as security guarantors are gaining momentum: Since the beginning of the war, for the first time, a majority of Germans is in favor of US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany. The movie Oppenheimer, telling the story of the “father of the atomic bomb”, is already considered as one of the most successful movies covering the Second World War – and it does not cover the humanitarian and ecological consequences of survivors of the use or testing of nuclear weapons. In mid-August, the first session of the Preparatory Committee Meeting for the 2026 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) came to an end – with State Parties even struggling to agree on a summary of what was discussed. With public support of nuclear weapons increasing and governments unwilling to discuss nuclear disarmament, the idea of Global Zero seems further away than in a long time.

At the same time, survivors of the use or testing of nuclear weapons and activists committed to nuclear disarmament are unwilling to give up – and are looking for new opportunities to advance international nuclear disarmament. One avenue clearly represents Feminist Foreign Policy, a concept which more and more states are committing. Shifting the focus from state security to the security of the most marginalized communities and individuals, the concept calls for the focus on the humanitarian and ecological consequences of nuclear weapons. For example, in March 2023, the German Federal Foreign Office introduced its Feminist Foreign Policy Guidelines which among many topics covers the commitment to “support efforts to recognise and compensate the victims of nuclear tests” advocating for a safe world without nuclear weapons.

Against this background, and ahead of the Second State Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation are organising the public discussion on The Future of Nuclear Disarmament: Is Global Zero Still Possible?, which aims to foster a conversation about the need and opportunities for nuclear disarmament during a period of increased nuclear war risk, primarily stemming from the conflict initiated by Russia, a nuclear-armed nation, which has persistently conveyed threats of nuclear weapon use. Further, the event will centre the humanitarian and ecological consequences of nuclear weapons and discuss potential new avenues to nuclear disarmament, including the concept of Feminist Foreign Policy. The event will bring together researchers on the humanitarian and ecological consequences of nuclear weapons, survivors, and German policy decision-makers.

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10. October 2023
18:00 - 20:00
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Heinrich Böll Foundation – Headquarters Berlin
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Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung – Headquarter Berlin Schumannstr. 8 10117 Berlin
Schumannstr. 8
Berlin, Berlin 10117 Germany
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