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Society

Nuclear Bridge Building

un-npt

What common ground exists between supporters and opponents of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)? The 2017 TPNW was a manifestation of the frustration within the global nuclear regime with the lack of progress towards disarmament. This along with other factors has contributed to polarization within the regime at the risk of undermining the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other efforts to reduce nuclear risks.

Polarization in policy is reflected in the majority of scholarship which approaches these issues either from a realist or critical studies perspective. The Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) holds a series of workshops and conferences to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to identify areas of common ground and practical opportunities for progress within the NPT.

Aims

In the context of the NPT, this research explores opportunities for bridge-building between nuclear possessors and non-possessors, between supporters and opponents of the TPNW, and between states and non-governmental organisations.

The research also explores ways for nuclear possessors and umbrella states to fulfil their disarmament commitments while continuing to rely on deterrence. It tackles difficult ethical questions associated with nuclear deterrence and touches on policy relevant questions and research findings that have contributed to the nuclear policies of numerous nuclear possessors and NATO states, the Conference on Disarmament, and the NPT.

Project activities include:

  • Develop a database of all bridge-building initiatives proposed by various international groups, including from French and German stakeholders.
  • Analyse these initiatives to identify at least five specific propositions for bridge-building initiatives.
  • Test propositions at a workshop in Berlin in partnership with SWP (German Institute for International and Security Affairs), and invite participants to write papers developing the propositions/initiatives for circulation prior to the event. Based on the outcome of the workshop, evaluate the initiatives and identify at least three that are most likely to contribute to bridge-building.
  • Test final propositions at a workshop in London, in interviews, and through a side event at the NPT.
  • Report findings and include specific actions and initiatives for rebuilding trust within the NPT, bringing together supporters and opponents of the TPNW, and strengthening the global nuclear regime.

Impact

This research project supported by the MacArthur Foundation has a direct and significant policy impact by helping to shape global nuclear policies with a focus on areas of common ground, practical opportunities, and risk reduction.

It has contributed articles to Non-Proliferation Review, The World Today, and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It will also produce two policy papers and a collection of papers with concrete steps for strengthening the global nuclear regime.

Project status: Ongoing

Principal investigators

WilliamsHeather

Heather Williams

Lecturer

Investigators

Lyndon Burford portrait image

Lyndon Burford

Visiting Research Associate