Beyond the Numbers: Strategies for Global Nuclear Governance

GGF 2020 Working Group on Nuclear Governance

April 2011


In this report, the GGF 2020 working group on nuclear governance recommends approaches to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament that qualify success as more than simply the number of nuclear weapons or the number of nuclear states. Following a one-year scenario building process, the working group also proposed a nuclear governance framework that includes better accounting methods and enhanced transparency. These are essential attributes for improving nuclear security, fostering trust and ultimately building the foundation for serious reductions of nuclear weapons in the future.

The group of GGF 2020 fellows included experts from Germany, China and the United States. The diversity of the fellows in terms of nationality, background and expertise represented a crucial asset for devising international strategies and solutions. From January 2010 to 2011, the group applied scenario planning methodology to envision different ways that the international community might approach the task of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament in the decade ahead. Their final report outlines two scenarios as well as recommendations that derive from them.

In their report, the GGF 2020 fellows provide the following recommendations:

1. Do not let the focus on reducing absolute numbers of weapons distract from, or militate against, the other essential components of nuclear global governance, including accountability and transparency;

2. Given the importance of latent nuclear capacity, in which non-nuclear weapon states could rapidly develop a nuclear weapon, the possession of an operational nuclear weapon should no longer be considered the singular red line for containing nuclear proliferation;

3. Global nuclear governance needs to address the proliferation of nuclear expertise to an ever-increasing number of states, which is as dangerous in the long term as the proliferation of nuclear fuel or materials;

4. Non-nuclear weapon states committed to the nonproliferation agenda should use their perceived legitimacy to help bridge the gap between haves and have-nots by spearheading new initiatives to limit proliferation;

5. Efforts on global nuclear governance should be better coordinated with other policy domains, including civilian energy generation.

In this report, the GGF 2020 working group on nuclear governance recommends approaches to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament that qualify success as more than simply the number of nuclear weapons or the number of nuclear states. Following a one-year scenario building process, the working group also proposed a nuclear governance framework that includes better accounting methods and enhanced transparency. These are essential attributes for improving nuclear security, fostering trust and ultimately building the foundation for serious reductions of nuclear weapons in the future.

The group of GGF 2020 fellows included experts from Germany, China and the United States. The diversity of the fellows in terms of nationality, background and expertise represented a crucial asset for devising international strategies and solutions. From January 2010 to 2011, the group applied scenario planning methodology to envision different ways that the international community might approach the task of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament in the decade ahead. Their final report outlines two scenarios as well as recommendations that derive from them.