Humanitarian Disarmament

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From the campaign to ban landmines to cluster munitions to the prohibition of nuclear weapons, advocates of humanitarian disarmament have sought to ban or restrict the use of certain indiscriminate and inhumane weapons to reduce civilian harm and suffering in conflict. Efforts to ban or restrict weapons seen as particularly cruel or gruesome date back centuries, and formed some of the earliest norms of international humanitarian law (IHL). In recent years, however, advocates of humanitarian disarmament have worked to reframe traditionally state-centric security frameworks to emphasize the human costs of weapons and warfare. In the process, they have achieved a number of successes in bringing states to agree on progressive developments in the law, including the adoption of treaties banning landmines (1997), cluster munitions (2008), and most recently, nuclear weapons (2017). The movement has also been notable for the involvement of civil society groups, and the progressive development of positive obligations in the law, including for victims’ assistance and environmental remediation.

In this episode, we’ll speak with leading experts and practitioners in the humanitarian disarmament movement. We’ll discuss the humanitarian approach to disarmament, and lessons from particular campaigns, including the Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalitions behind the 2017 Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty and the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, as well ongoing movements to address the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, lethal autonomous weapons systems (“killer robots”), toxic remnants of war, and other remaining challenges for civilian protection in armed conflict.

Featuring expert commentary from:

Laura Boillot 
Programme Manager,
Article 36
Matthew Bolton
International Disarmament Institute,
Pace University
Bonnie Docherty
Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilan Protection
at the International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School  
Susi Snyder
PAX Programme Manager:
Nuclear Disarmament & Don't Bank on the Bomb  
Doug Weir
Research and Policy Director,
The Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS)  


To hear more about toxic remnants of war in the Ukraine and Syria, the long-term health and environmental impacts of nuclear testing, and the use of chemical and poisonous weapons, you can listen to our related practitioner profile interview with Dr. Timothy B. Erickson here.



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