chapter  4
Resistance to the emergent norm to advance progress towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons
Pages 15

This chapter examines resistance to the abolition norm, known interchangeably as the global zero norm, the nuclear elimination norm and the complete and general disarmament norm. This is an emergent norm. The emergent abolition norm advocates progress towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. It is not simply the idea that abolition would be a good thing but incorporates a call to produce and commence execution of a concrete plan leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The norm will arguably remain emergent until states commence negotiations for a treaty to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The norm can be understood as having been galvanised by a number of published opinion pieces by former US officials around 2007, and in particular by the ‘Prague’ speech by President Barack Obama in 2009 in which he declared his vision of a nuclear-free world. It has a much longer history however. The context in which to understand the emergence of this norm is the previous long period of contestation between the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation norms. The norm of nuclear disarmament had followed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, building on previous disarmament efforts between the two world wars, while the norm of nuclear non-proliferation had first been articulated by the Irish in 1959 (UNGA 1380 XIV). Both of these norms had been incorporated into the 1968 Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) (729 UNTS 161), but the treaty had arguably placed greater priority on non-proliferation than on disarmament. Elimination is an extension of disarmament in the sense that complete disarmament would mean no further possession of nuclear weapons. In the post-Cold War era, work towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons surged in response to what many regard as inadequate progress on disarmament by nuclear-weapon states towards that end. This chapter is in three sections. The first identifies the entrepreneurs and explores in further detail the background to the emergent norm and how the norm entrepreneurs, facilitated by existing institutional structures and processes, promote it. The second identifies the norm antipreneurs and the techniques of resistance that they deploy. Interestingly, in this example the antipreneurs are primarily individuals. Virtually no one disagrees with the objective of the norm – resistance centres primarily on when and how fast progress should be made

with the process of disarming completely. Conceivably, because this norm advocates progress in a process that is difficult to oppose without appearing to abandon any disarmament objectives, few individuals and no states oppose the norm overtly. The third section examines the position of the United States, raising the question as to whether or not the US may be acting as antipreneur and hence whether, and if so how, it might be possible to identify covert antipreneurship.