Opening Remarks

Good morning! My name is Ariana Smith. I am the executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, a proud co-sponsor of today’s event. We have spent some months now invested in pulling together this conference and are very glad to bring to you a full and dynamic slate of panel discussions on nuclear weapons and the law. A conference like this is relatively unique, but I hope that today represents a departure from that tradition and marks the beginning of a broader, ongoing conversation about the legal regime managing nuclear weapons and related policies.

The essential relevance of the rule of law, and in particular international law, to nuclear weapons and to guiding the way toward their disarmament and abolition cannot be overstated. Given the very destructive and permanent consequences of both the use and testing of these weapons of mass destruction, understanding the effective application of law to the nuclear weapons regime is fundamental for lawyers, activists, and policymakers alike.

While we are all gathered today virtually as a result of an altogether different threat to our world—the Covid-19 pandemic—the existential threat of nuclear weapons still looms large. I hope that you take away from today both a deeper understanding of how international law constrains this threat and a renewed energy to shape the law and developing norms toward a more just and safer world for all. Thank you so much for being here; I look forward to engaging throughout the day together.