Nuclear weapons and the humanitarian approachNuclear weapons and the humanitarian approach
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
Global change, peace & security. -
26(2014):3, p. 233-250
University of Antwerp
The traditional arms control approach is slow in dismantling nuclear arsenals. It is also a state-centered approach, and does not enthuse public opinion as it is rather technical and complex. The recent interest in the so-called humanitarian approach of nuclear disarmament can be explained by a growing frustration with traditional arms control. The humanitarian approach points to the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons for individual human beings, and recommends forbidding nuclear weapons. The step-by-step approach is replaced by a principled approach, which holds that nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used, just like chemical and biological weapons. A ban on nuclear weapons will turn the tables. The burden of proof will shift from the non-nuclear weapon states to the nuclear weapon states. Those nuclear weapon states that are not eager to eliminate their nuclear weapons will come under growing pressure from worldwide public opinion as well as their own public opinion. It is this stigmatizing effect of nuclear weapons as inhumane and therefore unusable that may bring all states to pursue Global Zero.