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Nuclear weapons: legality and diplomacy

Society and economy

How does the threat posed by nuclear weapons affect the conflicts in which nuclear powers are involved? What tools – legal and diplomatic alike – are available to regulate these weapons and prevent their use?

Lecture,
Seminar
Date
9 Feb 2023
Time
09:15 - 11:45
Location
On Zoom, link will be delivered on Feb 8
Registration deadline
7 February 2023

Participants
Dr Eirini Giorgou, Legal Adviser, Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit, International Committee of the Red Cross
Dr Sari Kouvo, Associate Professor, Department of Law, School of Business, Economics and Law / Gothenburg university
Dr Gail Lythgoe, Lecturer in International Law, University of Manchester
Dr Jens Wirstam, Deputy Research Director, Swedish Defence Research Agency
Karin Åberg, PhD candidate in international law at Gothenburg University
Emilia Dungel, chairperson, Association in Memory of Joakim Dungel

The nuclear threat is growing. Escalating warfare, political posturing, and geopolitical shifts raise the immediacy of concerns regarding the immense destruction that the use of nuclear weapons would leave in their wake. 

The 2023 edition of the Joakim Dungel Lectures in International Justice will seek to make sense of this issue as our speakers help us understand the technology, history, legality, and politics of nuclear weapons. The speakers will also draw on their extensive experience and research to shed light on efforts to regulate nuclear weapons, and what this regulation and the multilateralism it depends on mean in an increasingly conflict-prone and polarized global setting.

Programme

9:15 Welcome and setting the scene
Dr Sari Kouvo, Associate Professor, Department of Law, School of Business, Economics and Law / Gothenburg university 

9:30 Nuclear Weapons: A Technical, Military, and Political Introduction 
Dr Jens Wirstam, Deputy Research Director, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Moderated by Sari Kouvo

10:00 Break

10:30 Nuclear Weapons and International and Humanitarian Law: Historical and Contemporary Developments
Dr Gail Lythgoe, Lecturer in International Law, University of Manchester
Dr Eirini Giorgou, Legal Adviser, Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit, International Committee of the Red Cross

Moderated by Karin Åberg

Discussion
Moderated by Emilia Dungel, chairperson, Association in Memory of Joakim Dungel

11:30 Concluding words
Sari Kouvo and Emilia Dungel, organizers


Speaker and Moderator Bios

Eirini Giorgou is a legal adviser in ICRC’s Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit, where she works, among other issues, on explosive weapons in populated areas and on nuclear weapons. She was previously employed in the ICRC’s unit for relations with arms carriers. Eirini has several years’ experience in multilateral disarmament and arms control diplomacy and negotiations outside the ICRC. Eirini is a licensed lawyer and holds a PhD in international law from the University of Geneva.

Sari Kouvo, associate professor of international law at the Department of Law of Gothenburg University. Currently on leave of absence from her academic position and seconded to the European External Action Service. Sari’s previous engagements include co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, Head of Program at the International Centre for Transitional Justice, advisor to the European Union Special Representative for Afghanistan, researcher at Amnesty International and researcher and lecturer at the Department of Law at Gothenburg University. She has held visiting fellowships and lectured at several universities, including Univrsité libre de Bruxelles, Vrije universiteit Brussel, Kent university, Birkbeck university, Åbo Academy, Australian National university and NATO Defense College. Sari’s publications focus on, inter alia, conflict and crisis management, international law, human rights, transitional justice and gender. Originally, from Finland, Sari currently lives in Brussels.  

Gail Lythgoe teaches and researches in international law and global governance and is director of the Manchester International Law Centre. She completed her PhD at the University of Glasgow on the topic of the territoriality of international law and global governance. She has studied law at the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Singapore (National University of Singapore) and was a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany. Gail is Assistant Review Editor of the European Journal of International Law.

Jens Wirstam is deputy research director at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), where he has worked on technical aspects related to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons for more than twenty years. His research supports the work of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) in these areas, and he is currently seconded to the department of Disarmament and Non-proliferation at the MFA. Jens holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the Stockholm University.

Karin Åberg is a PhD candidate in international law at Gothenburg University. Her dissertation topic concerns the development of asylum law as expressed in EU law and under the ECHR. She specifically examines how law and legal expectations interacts with humanitarianist values as well as ideas of the irregular migrant as an economic actor. Beside European asylum law, Åberg also writes about impoverished (Roma) EU migrants as well as the correlation between law and grassroot activism and is active in public debates on these subjects. Åberg has previously practiced law in Greece and Sweden, and worked with human rights advocacy in Brussels.

Emilia Dungel is chairperson of the Association in Memory of Joakim Dungel. Emilia worked for UNDP in Belgrade, the Small Arms Survey in Geneva, and UNRWA in Jerusalem before embarking on her current role, at the Swedish Defence Research Agency. She holds an MA in Conflict, Security and Development from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London and BAs in Political Science as well as Mandarin from Lund University.


The Joakim Dungel Lectures in International Justice aim to analyze and discuss various challenges through an international law lens. The Lectures were instituted in 2012 to honour the life and work of Joakim Dungel, an alumnus of Gothenburg University who was killed while working as a human rights officer for the UN in Afghanistan in 2011. To continue the work he was not able to, the seminars have tried to understand complex and controversial issues. Previous lectures have dealt with issues such as sexual violence in conflict, weapons of mass destruction, the global arms trade, and contextualizing terrorism. There are not clear-cut solutions to the topics at hand, but the Lectures aim to encourage the discussion as a means towards progress. 2023 will be the twelfth edition.

Click here to read more about the Joakim Dungel seminars.

 

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