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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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Humanitarian perspectives and the campaign for an international ban on nuclear weapons

The recent reorientation of the nuclear weapons debate towards a focus on their humanitarian consequences signifies a return to the origins of public opposition to these armaments. Nuclear weapons originally affronted the public conscience because their effects on people and the environment were seen as horrific and unacceptable. One of the key documents in the history of the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, made these concerns clear: “It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration”.

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