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A Systems Approach to Nuclear Security, Non-proliferation, Deterrence and Disarmament

BASIC hosted a series of workshops in 2015-16 throughout the United States and United Kingdom employing holistic and soft systems tools to frame discussions on nuclear security and non-proliferation with experts, young people and individuals less familiar with nuclear weapons from a variety of cultural backgrounds and levels of experience. We were seeking innovative, collaborative and future-focused approaches to escape the polarising traps that have characterised the public and political debate in the space up until now. We were looking for new narratives and approaches to nuclear security, based upon attitudes towards uncertainty, emerging technologies and links with other salient international concerns.

Our work on this issue was intended to:

  • Assess understanding of the nuclear security and non-proliferation agendas, and common elements that underpin concern around the issue, and to surface the barriers to wider engagement and understand why they exist.
  • Work with individuals from sectors outside the nuclear field that might share a concern or stake in addressing these barriers (and their root causes) and identify opportunities for sustainable collaboration or building incentives to engage with greater energy.
  • Diversify the discussion and consider how best to stimulate a culture shift in the way individuals and organisations both inside and outside the nuclear weapons “community” think about and engage with the nuclear discussion as a larger global issue that we all have a shared stake in addressing.

BASIC has for the last decade been applying and developing systems approaches when bringing together people to engage on the nuclear weapons debate. In 2014 BASIC launched its Next Generation project in order to engage with a broader cross-section of next generation of policy makers about nuclear weapons in a way that resonates with this demographic. We began to think about nuclear weapons differently, invoking innovation and holistic links with broader geopolitical issues such as climate change, the global economy, and human rights. Our Next Generation project evolved into this broader investigation using systems thinking tools to encourage fresh less boundaried thinking amongst participants, many of whom were new to the debate.

The PDF link below is the full project summary along with the workshop report of an event hosted in May 2016 by BASIC and the NSquare Collaborative that brought together nuclear weapons experts and funders, students of international relations and security studies, and innovators in various industries to discuss issues associated with nuclear security, deterrence and strategic relations in new ways.


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