NGOs and Civil Society
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), representing
sectors of civil society around the world, are working for the abolition
of nuclear weapons. In resisting autocratic governmental arms control
and disarmament machinery, NGOs strive to create democratic structures,
working in coalition with people across the world and with like-minded
governments. Governments have long called civil society the conscience
of the international community. As the global majority, with regard
to the reduction and elimination of weapons of mass destruction,
we are also the voice of democracy.
Since man made and multiplied the bomb, ethical,
moral and legal voices in society have called for the reduction
and elimination of this suicidal, genocidal and ecocidal weapon.
States sometimes make a rationalistic calculation that the acquisition
and retention of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons
is in their best interest. NGOs raise the costs of such policies
and are key actors in compelling states to pursue alternative options.
The participation of civil society is particularly important in
nuclear weapon, nuclear sharing and nuclear capable states.
NGOs and civil society make a variety of vital contributions
toward the reduction and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
Such initiatives include: sharing information and generating collaborative
strategies in international forums that address nuclear weapons
and other disarmament and security matters and connecting civil
society to international disarmament processes; providing independent
information and analysis about U.S. nuclear weapons in the context
of related foreign and domestic policies and making the connection
between weapons of mass destruction and war, bringing disarmament
home to the anti-war movement; conducting legal and policy research,
education and advocacy in support of nuclear arms control, disarmament,
and nonproliferation, and of rule-of-law based global security,
in national and international settings; promoting public understanding
of and support for effective arms control policies through the publication
of authoritative information, analysis and commentary on arms control
proposals, negotiations and agreements, and related national security
issues; and working across national boundaries, political systems,
ethnicities and religions, for reduction and elimination of nuclear
Ideas about gender – what is masculine or feminine,
powerful or impotent – affect our efforts towards halting
the proliferation of NBC weapons and bringing about effective disarmament.
To address these challenges more effectively, it is essential to
take into consideration how armament and disarmament policies and
practices are influenced by ideas about masculinity. An understanding
of this framing can play a crucial role in helping to break some
of the persistent barriers to achieving disarmament and non-proliferation.
Ideas about strength, protection, rationality, security
and control have a critical impact on governmental and intergovernmental
policy. They also function at a large-scale societal level, where
a certain notion of aggressive masculinity is equated with human
nature, e.g., “disarmament would be nice, but it’s against
human nature”. The research, development, production, stockpiling
and deployment of weapons and delivery systems – without which
war is impossible – are also equated with manliness, using
gender-resonant language about the importance of “demonstrating
our strength and resolve”.
The use of inspections rather than military attack,
as the means to ensure that a state does not build and deploy NBC
weapons , would be an example of a culturally feminised approach
to achieve the political objective of non-proliferation. Civil society
and feminist organizations in particular need to bring this analysis
to official disarmament and nonproliferation theories and institutions,
because they are entirely missing from the discourse.
Ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, NGOs and
civil society provide an alternative vision for the future. As responsible
global citizens, we are calling for a new concept of security, based
on the promise of adequate food, shelter, health care, education,
clean water and air for all people everywhere, and on the resolution
of international conflicts through multilateral institutions and
nonviolent mechanisms. Together, we are leading the way to an international
system based on collective and human security, and international
law, instead of state-centric security based on the threat and use
For more information:
NGO and Civil Society Resources Page