The State of the Anti-Nuclear Movement in 2021

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator css=”.vc_custom_1592076377183{padding-top: 15px !important;}”][vc_column_text]The State of the Anti-Nuclear Movement in 2021

Since the anti-nuclear movement began to propagate in response to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings during the last part of the Second World War and the Cuban missile crisis, the usefulness of nuclear weapons by nation-states to safeguard national security has become a key debate in the international community.

Today, some progresses have been made to stop the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons by nation-states. On July 7th, 2017, 86 countries signed onto the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Though neither Canada nor the U.S. has fully divested from the use of nuclear weapons, many strides have been made since the beginnings of the anti-nuclear movement. Indeed, between 1986 and 2020, the number of nuclear weapons decreased from 70,300 to 13,410. By 2030, Global Zero, an anti-nuclear organization, wants to see that number drop to zero.

Still, the inaction from many nation-states, including Canada, remains a key frustration for many anti-nuclear advocacy groups, including Global Zero, the International Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (ICAN), and the Arms Control Association.

Yet, why are states so reluctant to debate nuclear disarmament in the first place? Although the reasons appear to be complex, yet two things seems to be pertinent. One, nuclear power states do not want to appear weak in front of other powers by giving away their weapons and two, a lack of trust exists between and among the nation states about national security. At the same time, however, the threat that nuclear weapons pose to international peace remains a key issue.

Despite the challenges and hurdles experienced by proponents of nuclear disarmament, they remain both strategic and resilient. Indeed, in an article for The Conversation, Jon Coburn argues that the “anti-nuclear movement’s strength has always been its ability to react quickly and capitalize on external events that spark public interest.”

While public opinion remains divided on divestment from nuclear weapons, doing so can be a step towards creating a culture of peace. For decades, anti-nuclear advocates and organizations have remained resilient in keeping nuclear disarmament on the agenda. Until concrete policy is implemented internationally, the movement doesn’t show any sign of backing down.

Blog prepared by Cierra Bettens, Research Assistant at CRRIC.

Further reading:

Reaching Zero