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Cooperative Security: A New Paradigm For A World Without Nuclear Weapons?

Editorial Note: This paper was presented at the international conference “Opportunities and Challenges for the 21st Century – Need for a New Paradigm”, which was organised by the United Nations Office and the World Academy of Art and Science and held at the United Nations Office in Geneva on June 3, 2013.

If there is a loose consensus on aiming at a world free of nuclear weapons in the future, there are clear oppositions as to the timeframe as well as the means for achieving this goal. The approach to nuclear disarmament followed to date has only yielded limited success because it has been conceived in isolation from global and regional security environments and threat perceptions. A new paradigm should thus be sought in order to reconcile nuclear powers’ security doctrines with global aspirations for a safer world, and ensure that nuclear powers derive their security less from others’ insecurity but from mutually beneficial cooperative security. This should not become a pretext for preserving nuclear weapons for ever. It will on the contrary require parallel tracks addressing the initial motivations for acquiring nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), in particular in the context of regional conflicts, as well as dealing with the current issues necessarily related to nuclear disarmament (missile defence, weaponization of space, conventional imbalances and future weapon systems). Ultimately, in a globalised nuclear-weapon free world, state security will not require nuclear weapons because it will be inserted into a broader network encompass­ing all aspects of security addressed in cooperative and multilateral approaches.

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