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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.”
More on our Nuclear work
“Steps must be taken to regain some stability, and some prospect of control and reversal of what could be a nuclear race.”