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Viewing Nuclear Weapons through a Humanitarian Lens

image of Viewing Nuclear Weapons through a Humanitarian Lens
There is renewed and deep international concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the detonation of nuclear weapons in populated areas. Yet 25 years after the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence remain central to the security doctrines of a significant number of states. Drawing on a range of perspectives, this volume explores what viewing nuclear weapons through a humanitarian lens entails, and why it is of value. Recent developments in this respect are also examined, and what these could mean for nuclear arms control in the near future.

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The meaning of the Oslo Conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons

The Oslo Conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons represented a shift away from Cold War-based concepts, such as nuclear deterrence, and towards a fresh discussion on what exactly nuclear weapons are and what they do. According to the Conference’s media brief, its aim was “to provide an arena for the international community to have a facts-based discussion on the humanitarian and developmental consequences that would result from a nuclear weapon detonation. The Conference will be focusing on what happens on the ground”. Based on our analysis, the aims of the Oslo Conference spanned a broad spectrum, but in summary can be defined by three objectives: to advance the nuclear discourse, to include a diverse range of participants, and to do so without challenging the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Conference included 128 participants, including states, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and members of civil society.

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