Imagine a nuclear-weapon-free world

Imagine a nuclear-weapon-free world

This article aim is to exult the ban of Nuclear Weapons since weapons of mass destruction are killing people without any distinction. There is a hope that, in the future, all types of arms are going to be banned and our lineage will not face ever again the horrors that weapons are causing. This article takes in consideration a feminist prospect due to; women are generally more impacted biologically and discriminated because of the effects of radiations; the feminine gender is not yet relevant when we speak about the disarmament sphere in institutions. Men can play an important role by taking into consideration women’s notion.  

The 7th of July History was written; the nuclear weapons are now considered illegal. After more than 70 years since the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were launched and after numerous testing, just think about the North-Korean testing of a long-range nuclear bomb made the 3rd of July, 122 countries voted for the elimination of this inhuman weapon. 69 nations, among which neither NATO members nor the 9 nuclear-armed states, participated in the forum meeting. Although these nations did not take part, the hope is still tied to the civil society and the public who are exerting pressure in addition to the ban and the stigmatization of arm possessions which will make nuclear-weapons States reconsidering their positions.

On the Preamble of this new Treaty, it is written “Cognizant that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons cannot be adequately addressed, transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations, and have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of ionizing radiation”. This is an explicit reference to the humanitarian consequences of nukes, an argument against the using of this typology of armament that was used since 2010 in order to ban the use of Nuclear Weapons. A nuclear weapon has tremendous negative impact on health, as hospitals are destroyed, doctors and nurses either dead or injured. Also, the radiation can cause long-term issues such as cancer; it harms the environment, the agriculture, it damages the infrastructures,  and the radiation affects the animals. Moreover, it hinders both the economy and the Sustainable Development of a nation.[1].

In the preamble, it is explicitly stated that the nuclear weapons have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, this was the topic of numerous reports and studies such as the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.In the report, Calin Georgescu explains that in the Marshal Islands, where USA bombs testing took place, women are more exposed to radiations levels due to their habits in eating and bathing.[2] Moreover, as explained by WILPF; the high radiation endured by women can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, congenital disabilities, and reproductive problems that could lead to stigmatization because of the fact that they could not be worth marrying anymore.[3]

As women are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation than men, whether it is due to biological reasons or social roles, we would think that they would be represented in the disarmament dialogues.

On the contrary, Nuclear Weapons and the disarmament process, in general, are seen as a masculine sphere, and they are extremely gendered. Bombs are seen as strong, and, for this reason, they counterpose to the model of femininity, which should be weak and more willing to discuss soft power. This gendered dimension can be seen generally, even if there are exceptions in the terminology used when speaking about nuclear bombs. For instance, nuclear weapons have names of boys such as “Fat Man”, the warhead that bombed Nagasaki. Also, the phrases and words used in the context of nuclear weapons are incredibly linked to the masculine sexual sphere.[4][5]

Even though women are underrepresented in the institutional organizations, they have participated, uniting their voices to men and aware of the inhuman use of this armoury, in marches and acts of protest against nuclear warheads. In 1961, Women Strike for Peace marched in 60 cities in the USA against nuclear testing. Besides, from 1981 until 2000, many women lived near RAF Greenham Common, in England, where atomic bombs were located, to protest the use and the storage of this inhuman weapon. This very year, the 17th of June, women marched in New York City to support the ban on Nuclear Weapons at the UN.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction, and as such, they destroy everything and everyone they find in their way without any distinction. It is not understandable how the people of the power of a country can think so little of the Other that they can eliminate, a whole city with everyone in it, by only pushing button thousands of kilometres away. In the Pacifist doctrine, one reason to be against the war is that there is a dehumanization of soldiers; the enemy is seen only as a subject that must be killed without thinking that he is also a human being.[6] It is the same problem when a person pushes the nuclear button: they do not think that they are destroying the lives of thousands, as well as their culture, and their dreams along the way.

Before the treaty banning Nuclear Weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, such as Chemical and Biological weapons, antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions have been banned because of their ability to kill everybody indistinctively that has been in contact with these kinds of arms which causes a dehumanisation of people, considering them as an enemy that has to be used as an armament and then to be destroyed for the sole purpose of domination. 

In this world where weapons do not only affect only soldiers but also civilians, we have the moral duty to use peaceful strategies in order to keep in mind that the other, even if he is the enemy, has the right to be considered as a human and to be respected as such. By Benedetta Cavagna


[1] Beatrice Fihn, Unspeakable suffering, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Publications/Unspeakable/Unspeakable.pdf

[2] Calin Georgescu, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, A/HRC/21/48/Add.1

[3] Beatrice Fihn, Unspeakable suffering, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Publications/Unspeakable/Unspeakable.pdf

[4] Carol Cohn, Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals, Signs, Vol. 12, No. 4, Within and Without: Women, Gender, and Theory. (Summer, 1987), pp. 687-718

[5] UNIDIR, Gender, Development and Nuclear Weapons, 2016

[6] Dower, Nigel (2009) The Ethics of War and Peace: Cosmopolitan and Other Perspective, Polity, Cambridge, p. 126

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