Humanitarian Student Union Hosts “Peace in the Nuclear Age” Panel

Event focuses on a path towards global denuclearization

by Noah Kotlarek

News Editor

On Thursday, Oct. 17, Fordham’s Humanitarian Student Union (HSU) and Nuclear Age Peace Foundation hosted a panel of foreign policy experts and activists to discuss global denuclearization and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The event was held in the Keating First auditorium, and panelists included Jamie Walsh from the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN, Veronique Christory of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Susi Snyder of the Pax International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and David Onazi from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.  All panelists had the same mission: to spread awareness and ultimately dismantle all nuclear weapons.

The speakers began by acknowledging that nuclear weapons impact all of us so we should all be concerned about their existence and future.  Jamie Walsh explained that Ireland, though it holds no nuclear weapons of its own, actively involves itself in nuclear affairs because the detonation of a nuclear weapon, even if not directed at Ireland, would have detrimental effects for the small country.  Dr. Onazi explained the health and ecosystem implications of detonation.  The general consensus? Detonation is bad for all of us.

The panel then shifted its focus onto the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was first proposed in 2017.  This Treaty bans the development and deployment of nuclear weapons, but in order to become part of international law must be ratified by fifty nations. As of now, thirty-three nations have signed, none of which are nuclear powers.

Though the speakers acknowledged that none of the nuclear powers had signed, they remain hopeful and were quick to point out that ratification is possible.  All panelists cited the Prohibition of Chemical and Biological Weapons, which before it was signed into international law in 1993 seemed impossible.  The panelists also noted that the nuclear powers have been trying to convince nonnuclear nations not to sign the treaty out of the fear that it might actually become international law.  If these nuclear powers are actively working to stop the Treaty from going into effect there must be a real possibility that it could.

When asked when nuclear weapons would be prohibited, the panelists answered that it would happen once countries realize nuclear weapons are too expensive and ineffective.  Cyber warfare is cheaper, more effective, and does less physical damage to society and civilians.  Though the prohibition of nuclear weapons will be a large step forward, a much greater challenge will present itself: the end of violence.

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