Accommodating Nutopia: The nuclear ban treaty and the developmental interests of Global South countries

18 August 2023

Review of International Studies

This publication by Andrew Futter and Olamide Samuel argues that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) would not have been possible without protecting the inalienable rights of states to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. While some Western states and NGOs have pushed to ban all applications of nuclear technology, this was unacceptable to a large number of disarmament-supporting states from the Global South and the Non-Aligned Movement. Without support from states across the Global South, the TPNW would not have achieved the required number of signatories to be adopted. 

Thus, we argue that to properly understand the TPNW, an appreciation of states’ interests and motivations beyond their more widely discussed frustrations with the pace of nuclear disarmament is essential. We also argue that nuclear weapons scholarship must pay more attention to perspectives from the Global South and the concept of Nutopia – a belief in both the dystopian potential of nuclear weapons and the utopian possibilities of nuclear energy – in its understanding of nuclear politics, past and present. Global South perspectives are often overlooked, and as such, current regimes of nuclear arms control and disarmament remain only partially understood in Western literature.

Dr Olamide Samuel

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