An important virtual conference, held on November 12, 2020, brought together leading public officials, thought-leaders, policymakers and domestic and international experts for a comprehensive analysis of the role of international law in addressing the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons. The event was hosted by the New York State Bar Association, and sponsored by the American Bar Association, the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear policy, Global Security Institute, and others.

Coursebook for the conference is available here.


Panel 1:

0:32:22 to 2:09:07
Overview: Nuclear Weapons Risks, Consequences and Responses
Addresses the facts, policies, and history as to nuclear weapons and the
consequent risks.

Prof. Charles J. Moxley, Jr., Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham University


  • Prof. Osamu Arakaki, Professor of Law, International Christian University, Japan
  • Hans M. Kristensen, Director, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of
    American Scientists
  • Prof. Scott Sagan
  • Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, Stanford
    University, and Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Keynote Address:

2:15:31 to   2:35:11
Hon. Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative
for Disarmament Affairs
Introduction by Ariana N. Smith

Panel 2: The Role of the United Nations

2:36 to 3:34:50
Addresses the multi-faceted role of the United Nations in relation to nuclear
weapons, including the Secretary-General’s 2018 disarmament agenda, Securing
Our Common Future; International Court of Justice cases; the 2017 adoption of
the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; a 2018 comment of the UN
Human Rights Committee; and functions of the UN General Assembly and the
Conference on Disarmament.

Ariana N. Smith


  • Hon. Izumi Nakamitsu
  • Dr. John Burroughs, Senior Analyst, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
  • Allison Pytlak, Programme Manager, Reaching Critical Will, Women’s
    International League for Peace and Freedom


Session 2:

A Special Conversation on Responding to the Greatest Threats to Humanity

0:58 – 41:29

  • Hon. Jerry Brown, Former Governor, State of California; Executive Chairman, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,
  • Jonathan Granoff, President, Global Security Institute

Panel 3:

42:30 – 1:56:25

The International Treaty Regime Applicable to Nuclear Weapons and Further Treaties That Have Been Proposed Addresses treaties, norms, policies, and practices concerning nuclear weapons.
MODERATOR: Jonathan Granoff

  • Hon. Dr. Christopher Ashley Ford, U.S. Ambassador, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
  • Hon. Thomas Graham, Jr., Former Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament; Former General Counsel, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club of California; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense


Session 3:

Opening Remarks

  • Patricia Lee Refo, President, American Bar Association

00:06:48 – 10:30

Panel 4:

International Law and Threat and Use of Nuclear Weapons

0:10:46 to 01:33:48

Addresses the legal status of use and threat of use of nuclear weapons under the
international law of armed conflict (international humanitarian law) and the UN
Charter, with reference to law of war manuals of the U.S. armed services,
commentaries of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other sources.

Dr. John Burroughs, Senior Analyst and former Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy


  • Prof. David A. Koplow, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center; Former
    Special Counsel for Arms Control to the General Counsel of the U.S. Department
    of Defense 
  • Kathleen Lawand, Strategic Adviser to Director of International Law and Policy,
    International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Former Head of Arms Unit,
  • Prof. Charles J. Moxley, Jr.

Panel 5:

Approaches for Advancing the Rule of Law and Morality
as Concerns Nuclear Weapons

01:34:21 to 03:40:23

Addresses approaches for advancing the rule of law and morality as concerns
nuclear weapons, including considerations as to litigation, defense of protesters,
shareholders litigation, shareholders resolutions, FOIA requests, civic advocacy,
universal jurisdiction, election of proactive prosecutors, civil engagement, the work
of major faith groups, and other approaches.

Prof. Charles J. Moxley, Jr.


  • Laurie Ashton, Of Counsel, Keller Rohrback; Member of Legal Team for the
    Marshall Islands in Its Nuclear Disarmament Cases in the International Court of
    Justice; Counsel for Marshall Islands in Its Nuclear Disarmament Case in the Ninth
    Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation;
    North American Coordinator, Mayors for Peace
  • Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., Ph. D., Distinguished Professor of Ethics and
    Human Development, Walsh School of Foreign Service, and Senior Fellow,
    Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Georgetown University
  • Tom Z. Collina, Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund, and Co-author, with
  • William J. Perry, The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power
    from Truman to Trump (BenBella Books, 2020)
  • Audrey Kitagawa, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Parliament of the World’s

    Conference papers:

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