Zombie weapons

As John Borrie put it this morning at the ICAN Civil Society Conference: Nukes are like zombies. The are mindless, they are indiscriminate in who they target and they are unaware of the fact that they are already dead.

By Wilbert van der Zeijden

Today in Oslo we look at how we get what many of us have been working on for quite a while: a ban on nuclear weapons. The assumption underlying the discussions today is that something went wrong somewhere long ago, during a conflict our grandfathers made up: the cold war. Back then, folks decided to focus dicussions on the deterrence value of nuclear weapons. Not on how criminally insane it is to use them.

We need to shift that focus and look at the unacceptable consequences of the use of these weapons. But that’s not the only change we need.

We also need to shift the focus of our discussions away from the claustrophobic concept of state security, in favour of a focus on human security.

In addition, we need to stop allowing the nuclear weapon states to determine the pace and the direction of the discussions. They are after all only a small group of nine defectors in a sea of nations that show much a more realistic self-preservationist behaviour.

Returning to the zombie metaphor: We need to take heed of those who run in fear from the zombies, less of those who produce, feed, ‘forward deploy’ zombies and threaten to unleash zombie armies on their neighbours.