When the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended thirty years ago, those of us who had grown up in the shadow of the bomb breathed a sigh of relief. But today, a new nuclear arms race risks creating an even greater threat than was present during the Cold War era, when deterrence was able to provide effective stability.
With the foundations of deterrence are being seriously eroded, and the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons lamentably unattainable in the current climate, The Elders have proposed four steps to minimise the threats they pose to international peace and security. Mary Robinson and Lakhdar Brahimi presented this initiative at the Munich Security Conference last month, making clear all nuclear-armed states have a grave responsibility to prevent global catastrophe.
The current situation between India and Pakistan is a striking example of the need for responsible leadership and bold moves on disarmament to de-escalate tensions between nuclear-armed states. We call on the leaders of India and Pakistan to take urgent steps to defuse military and political tensions and to refrain from further bellicose rhetoric. We stand in solidarity with the thousands of voices in India and Pakistan and of the Kashmiri people who say ‘no to war’.
A further reminder of how national policies have profound global implications was brought to light by Ban Ki-moon just last week. He made a strong statement on the UK’s commitments to fight climate change and their contradictory actions by directly funding fossil fuels in developing countries. As Elders, we call on G20 nations to move away from fossil fuel investment and take the lead in supporting clean energy.