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Nuclear Disarmament or Nuclear Arms Race: The World at Crossroads

Part of the Geneva Peace Week

Over the past years, nuclear multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament agreements and regimes have been threatened by growing divisions and challenges while bilateral arms control frameworks or negotiations towards arsenal reduction have offered no prospect of progress.

Global geo-political events have both added a sense of urgency to the issue and a reality check of how surreal the path is we are currently on – these include the sudden onset of discussions towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula alongside the near simultaneous retracting of the US from the Iran Nuclear Deal. At the same time, doctrinal evolutions and technological choices by some nuclear powers contribute to dangerously lowering the threshold of use of nuclear weapons while the taboo of use of weapons of mass destruction has already been eroded by the widespread use of chemical weapons in Syria.

This threat of events has been dotted by tentative policy level pushes towards, hopefully, more productive discussions towards nuclear disarmament through the adoption of Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in 2017, the Conference on Disarmament initiating more substantive work within four thematic subsidiary bodies earlier this year, and last but not least, the UN Secretary General’s new Agenda on Disarmament published in May 2018.

But what is the current state of play of disarmament in an increasingly multipolar world where consensus is more and more elusive? Is the path towards nuclear risk reduction and disarmament still realistic or do we need to resign ourselves to an unabated arms race that may lead to the brink of catastrophe? What can we hope for within set-piece multilateral interactions or are there other opportunities that need tapping into? Is the Secretary General’s Agenda ambitious enough to enable positive and lasting change and where do the opportunities lie within his plan of action?


  • Marc Finaud - 'Arms Proliferation' Cluster Leader, Senior Programme Advisor for the Emerging Security Challenges Programme at Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)
  • Peter Herby - Humanitarian Disarmament and Arms Control Consultant, Petersburg Partnerships
  • Aidan Liddle - Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United-Kingdom to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva
  • Susanne Hammer - First Secretary for the Permanent mission of Austria to United Nations in Geneva




Refreshments will be served from 9:00 onwards.

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Maison de la Paix, Auditorium Ivan Pictet A1A

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