Report: Common Security through Nuclear Responsibilities – Perspectives from Geneva

In March 2019, BASIC and ICCS staff held a closed-door roundtable at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) to introduce Conference on Disarmament representatives from a wide range of Non-Nuclear Weapon States to the nuclear responsibilities frame.

Participants discussed how to take the nuclear responsibilities framework forward, including how to include non-NPT nuclear possessor states, the pros and cons of the application of the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ around nuclear weapons, and the relationships between legal and normative responsibilities.

The lead author was Alice Spilman, who from September 2019 will be joining the ICCS at the University of Birmingham as PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science and International Studies and BASIC through a collaborative studentship, working as an Analyst on BASIC and ICCS’s Programme on Nuclear Responsibilities.

Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler contributed research on ‘security dilemma sensibility’ and ‘treaty regime fragility awareness,’ which are explained in the report.

Key Takeaways

  • Inclusion of nuclear weapon possessor states, both inside and outside the NPT, is vital for a constructive discussion of nuclear responsibilities and the possibilities for global nuclear risk-reduction.
  • Highlighting awareness of nuclear responsibilities should not denigrate the importance of existing treaty commitments, especially the NPT, and the need for all state parties to live up to their promises.
  • The nuclear responsibilities framework could make an important contribution by helping to give greater clarity to existing commitments, whilst providing an opportunity for states to find new and cooperative ways to meet these obligations.
  • State officials need to cultivate increased empathy and understanding of the security concerns of others, and to develop policies that promote reassurance rather than conflict in situations where states share common interests.

The report is available here or by clicking the cover below.

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