Skip to main content

Nuclear weapons

The impact we seek: Current and future generations are free from the threat of nuclear destruction.

The Issue

Despite reductions in nuclear stockpiles since the end of the Cold War, almost 13,000 nuclear warheads remain in existence and stockpiles are set to increase. Some nuclear states are modernising or expanding their capabilities, while some have increased the role of nuclear weapons in their security policies and nuclear postures. New technologies, including hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles, AI and cyber capabilities are reducing the amount of time leaders have to make decisions in a crisis, and increasing the risks of nuclear conflict through accident or miscalculation. The increasing erosion of the taboo against nuclear use has added to this danger.

“All nuclear powers – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, China, France and the UK) as well as Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea – need to face up to their responsibilities and work together to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.”

Ban Ki-moon

Deputy Chair of The Elders
Former UN Secretary-General

Our Priorities

The case for addressing this existential risk is clear and we believe The Elders can play an impactful role. We use our moral voice to challenge world leaders, embolden multilateral approaches, and mobilise civil society. This includes advocating for more voices to be heard in decision-making, particularly women and youth.

We want to see action on the following:

Mary Robinson and Elbegdorj Tsakhia at the Doomsday Clock unveiling in Washington, USA, 2023.

International attention on the nuclear threat is increased

The Elders challenge the relatively low priority given to the nuclear threat on the international agenda. We also influence decision-makers in nuclear states to view the nuclear threat with more urgency, and to encourage them to establish and strengthen dialogue mechanisms.

The international architecture for nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and risk reduction is protected and strengthened

The Elders use convening and private diplomacy to encourage the protection of existing arms control agreements, and the development of new risk reduction agreements and norms, to  manage and reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.

A protest for nuclear disarmament outside the White House, USA. Photo: Maria Oswalt via Unsplash

An inclusive nuclear policy community and grassroots movement is built that can challenge status quo thinking on nuclear weapons

The Elders encourage new actors to enter the nuclear field and give credibility to those challenging conventional wisdom on issues like nuclear deterrence. We argue that nuclear weapons are a source of insecurity, not security, in our public and private advocacy, and promote gender equality and intergenerational dialogue as being central to a more inclusive nuclear policy community and grassroots movement.

Our Approach

Alongside our core multilateral approach, promoting gender equality and intergenerational dialogue is at the heart of The Elders’ work on building a more inclusive nuclear policy community and grassroots movement. We work to amplify a more diverse range of voices on nuclear issues, while seeking to increase global attention on the nuclear threat. 

We also work with a range of international groups and experts who are dedicated to rethinking approaches to nuclear weapons.  Such networks are vital as we help to build a global movement of increased diversity, reflecting the threat nuclear weapons represent to all humanity.

“We must preserve our planet by eliminating nuclear weapons across the world.”

Elbegdorj Tsakhia

Member of The Elders
Former Prime Minister and President of Mongolia

More on our Nuclear work


Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

In November 2019, The Elders released a policy paper on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, in which we outlined the importance of a nuclear-minimisation agenda. We called on all states to urgently and seriously recognise the need for nuclear disarmament.


Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6 and 9 of August each year are opportunities to call on world leaders, decision-makers, and the public to pause for a moment of reflection and solidarity, considering the action needed to avoid nuclear catastrophe in the future.

“Steps must be taken to regain some stability, and some prospect of control and reversal of what could be a nuclear race.”

Ernesto Zedillo

Member of The Elders
Former President of Mexico

Keep up to date with The Elders’ COVID-19 digest:

Sign up to receive regular updates about The Elders’ activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will never share your email address with third parties.

Keep up to date with The Elders latest News and Insight:

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders. We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.


I would like to find: