It’s 90 seconds till midnight. We are closer to the brink of nuclear war than at any point since the first and only use of nuclear weapons in 1945. While most reasonable people understand the need to abolish these weapons, few officials have been willing to suggest elimination as a first step. Fortunately, there is a voice of reason in a growing grassroots coalition: this Back from the Brink movement supports the elimination of nuclear weapons through a negotiated, verifiable time-bound process with the common sense precautionary measures necessary during the process to prevent nuclear war.
“The New Nuclear Era” is a week-long series of posts (June 2022) intended to serve as an introduction to education toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, and to inspire peace educators to address the urgency of a renewed civil society movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The series commemorates and reflects upon the 40th anniversary of the largest single anti-war and weapons manifestation in the history of the 20th-century peace movement, the 1 million-person march for the abolition of nuclear weapons that took place at Central Park in New York City on June 12, 1982.
We recommend reviewing the posts in order as they are structured as a learning sequence:
- Another Year, Another Dollar: Preliminary Reflections on June 12th and Nuclear Abolition
- The New Nuclear Era: A Peace Education Imperative for a Civil Society Movement
- Nuclear Weapons are Illegal: the 2017 Treaty
- Nuclear Weapons and the Ukraine War: A Declaration of Concern
- The New Nuclear Reality”
- “Turning Fear into Action”: A Conversation with Cora Weiss
- Commemoration and Commitment: Documenting June 12, 1982 as a Festival for Life
In addition to the “The New Nuclear Era” series, you will also find below an extended archive of posts on nuclear abolition suitable to adoption for peacelearning purposes.
Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons have heightened tensions, reduced the threshold for use of nuclear weapons, and greatly increased the risk of nuclear conflict and global catastrophe. This briefing paper prepared by ICAN provides an overview of why delegitimization of these threats is urgent, necessary and effective.
Mary Dickson is a survivor of nuclear weapons testing. Over the decades since the first tests at the Nevada test site, victims of nuclear testing have suffered death, limited life spans, and lives of pain and physical disability. Dickson seeks accountability and reparations for other victims, factors to consider in assessing the ethics of nuclear policy.
In 1986 the New Zealand government adopted Peace Studies guidelines in order to introduce peace education into the school curriculum. The following year, the parliament adopted legislation prohibiting nuclear weapons – cementing into policy a shift toward a common security based foreign policy. In this article, Alyn Ware commemorates the 35th anniversary of the nuclear-free legislation, highlights the connection between peace education and the shift in security policy, and recommends further action for the government and New Zealanders to help eliminate nuclear weapons globally.
Peace educators dealing with any disarmament issues should be familiar with the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and its highly regarded work on a broad range of issues related to weapons and armaments. Those who address the problematic of nuclear weapons and the movement for their elimination will find SIPRI’s research on stockpiling posted here useful learning material.
“In Our Hands,” a film by Robert Richter, documents both the joy and the awareness that characterized the June 12, 1982 March for nuclear abolition; joy engendered by the massive positive energy the marchers exuded, and awareness of the stark realities as articulated by so many who were interviewed by the filmmaker. The film is presented here to support peacelearning and reflection in support of action for the future of the nuclear abolition movement.
The June 12, 1982 mobilization for the abolition of nuclear weapons was an exercise in turning fear into action. This conversation with Cora Weiss, Robert Richter, and Jim Anderson revisits the NYC march and rally of 1 million persons and explores what made the mobilization possible and the future directions of the nuclear abolition movement.
Robin Wright addresses “The New Nuclear Reality” by calling forth the need to “devise a new or more stable security architecture—with treaties, verification tools, oversight, and enforcement—to replace the eroding models established after the last major war in Europe ended, seventy-seven years ago.”
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation supports the call for a broad-scale civil society movement for nuclear abolition and puts forward a proposal to convene a civil society tribunal to address violations of international law flouted by nuclear possessing states. We encourage peace educators to read the declaration to support inquiry into the potential of a civil society tribunal.