The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
The global nuclear order that comprises nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation, and disarmament is often viewed as discriminatory and increasingly castigated as unjust. Few states got to develop and deploy nuclear weapons in the name of their own security and that of their allies. Most are prohibited from doing so by the international nonproliferation regime. All stand to lose if a nuclear exchange takes place. Russia’s war against Ukraine underscored the inequities and injustices in the global nuclear order built on hierarchical spheres of (in)security. How to define injustice in nuclear affairs? How sustainable is an unjust global nuclear order? At what cost can it be maintained in its present form, and how can it be long tolerated by the future generations? The panel brings together scholars to critically reflect on past, ongoing, and future nuclear injustices – in the context of the war in Ukraine and beyond – to assess the main tensions and pave the way for a research agenda beyond the usual boundaries of the nuclear policy field and community.
For related reading before the talk, see:
- Franziska Stärk and Ulrich Kühn, “Roundtable: Making nuclear injustice an agenda for change,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 2, 2023.
For related readings mentioned during the talk:
- On the effects of funding on the production of knowledge and the short version
- On good faith and political possibilities and the short version
- Sébastien Philippe's research on French nuclear testing in Polynesia
Jana Baldus, Caroline Fehl, and Sascha Hach, “NPT 2022: An Opportunity to Advance Nuclear Justice,” Global Policy, 2022.
Jana Baldus, Caroline Fehl, and Sascha Hach, “Beyond the Ban: A Global Agenda for Nuclear Justice,” PRIF Report, April 2021.
Nick Ritchie and Kjølv Egeland, “The diplomacy of resistance: power, hegemony and nuclear disarmament.” Global Change, Peace & Security 30 (2): 121–141.
Shampa Biswas, Nuclear Desire: Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order, Minneapolis, Mn.: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
Nina Tannenwald, “Justice and Fairness in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime,” Ethics & International Affairs 27 (3), 2013: 299–317.
This Zoom webinar took place on Friday, March 17 from 9:00-10:30am Eastern Time.
Mariana Budjeryn moderated the panel.
Franziska Stärk Franziska Stärk is a researcher in the Arms Control and Emerging Technologies Program at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH). Her research focuses on the intersection of critical security studies and nuclear arms control, with a particular interest in intergenerational justice and nuclear weapons. In the beginning of 2023, she stepped down as the coordinator of the Young Deep Cuts Commission in the Challenges to Deep Cuts project. Before joining IFSH, she was a Policy Advisor for the Munich Security Conference working on a wide range of security policy issues including arms control, energy security and human security. She is an alumna of the French Réseau Nucléaire et Stratégie – Nouvelle Génération and the German National Academic Scholarship Foundation. She studied Political Science and Rhetoric at the University of Tübingen (B.A.) and International Security at Sciences Po Paris (M.A.).
Mari Faines serves as the Partner for Mobilization at Global Zero, with oversight of movement building strategies, which navigate the intersection of nuclear disarmament and social justice, through tactics including grassroots organizing, policy engagement, and coalition building. Mari’s foundation is in nuclear intersectionality, conflict resolution, transitional justice, and racial disparities in the US and African diaspora. She currently serves on the steering committee for Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security’s (WCAPS) DEI initiative ‘Organizations in Solidarity.’ She is also a member of Foreign Policy 4 America’s (FP4A) NextGen Initiative, and co-lead for the DEI working group; Co-chair for BASIC’s Emerging Voice Network, 'Challenging racism and white supremacy in nuclear weapons policy-making' working group; a 2023 PONI Nuclear Scholar, a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) AILA International Fellow; and a member of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) & Diversity in National Security 2022 U.S. National Security & Foreign Affairs Leadership List. While residing in the UK, Mari served on the Board of WCAPS-UK; was founder/host of the podcast ‘Got Melanin’; and worked with Democrats Abroad, African Development Forum, the London Conversations, and UNITE 2030. Her recent publications have been featured in The Guardian, New America, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Inkstick Media, and Outrider.
Benoît Pelopidas is the founder of the Nuclear Knowledges program and holds the chair of excellence in security studies at CERI (Sciences Po). He is also an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University and has been a frequent visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. In France, Nuclear Knowledges is the first scholarly research program on the nuclear phenomenon, which is fully independent and transparent on its funding sources. He has been awarded four international prizes for his research. In 2017, he has been awarded one of the most competitive EU grants: an ERC Starting Grant (1,5 million € over five years) on nuclear weapons choices. He focuses on the construction of knowledge about nuclear weapons, their institutional, conceptual, imaginal and memorial underpinnings. Conceptually, he elaborates nuclear vulnerability beyond its material and strategic dimensions. Empirically, Benoit’s focus is on nuclear “close calls”, crisis management and French nuclear history. Over the last seven years, he has been engaging with policymaking elites in the US and Europe as well as civil society groups to advocate innovative nuclear disarmament and arms control policies. Since 2013, he has been coordinating a team of 13 international researchers to write the first global history of the so-called "Cuban Missile Crisis" based on primary sources worldwide, which revisits fundamental concepts of IR and security studies such as the nuclear revolution, power, sovereignty, neutrality and alliance dynamics.