A tantrum or a treaty? Talk explores the campaign for a treaty to abolish nuclear arms

Ray Acheson
Ray Acheson
Ray Acheson

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, Ray Acheson, a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) steering committee, which is  behind the Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaign for a treaty-based approach to prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons, will visit York University to deliver a special lecture as part of the Department of Science & Technology Studies Seminar Series.

Acheson is the director of Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament program of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (a member organization of ICAN). She served as one of 10 representatives on the ICAN steering committee serving on the effort to bring about a treaty-based prohibition on nuclear weapons.

Acheson’s talk, “A tantrum… or a treaty? Behind the campaign to outlaw nuclear weapons,” will offer insight into ICAN’s winning campaign, the pitfalls and the potential of the approach and what the future holds for the treaty, which will enter into force once 50 nations have signed and ratified it. The talk will take place from 12:30 to 2pm in the Delaney Gallery, 320 Norman Bethune College, on York University’s Keele campus.

ICAN is an association made up of 468 partner organizations in 101 countries. Led by a steering committee that includes Acheson, ICAN has shifted the debate on disarmament towards a focus on the humanitarian threat posed by nuclear weapons, including the unique destructive effect of nuclear weapons, the catastrophic health and environmental consequences of their use, the indiscriminate targeting and the long-lasting effects of radiation of nuclear weapons.

On July 7, 2017, after 10 years of advocacy by ICAN, an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations adopted a landmark global agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. For its efforts to bring the treaty to the United Nations, ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. In awarding the prize, the Nobel Peace Prize committee praised ICAN “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

Editor’s note: On Jan. 16, Acheson authored an article for The Nation following the false alarm about the launch of a nuclear warhead. The false alarm put Hawaii into 38 minutes of full alert and brought terror to the population. The experience, wrote Acheson, proves that a complete ban on nuclear arms is required. Read more here.