On 8th and 9th December 2014 the third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons took place in Vienna. The aim of this conference, which was organised by the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, was to create momentum for concrete progress on nuclear disarmament. Nearly 160 states were represented, as well as numerous NGOs, academic institutions and civil society organizations.

It allowed panels of experts to consider and address the following: the impact of nuclear weapon explosions and testing; risk drivers for deliberate or inadvertent nuclear weapons use; scenarios, challenges and capabilities regarding nuclear weapons use/explosions and the norms under existing international law pertaining to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons explosions. These presentations were followed by statements of state and civil society representatives and a general debate about how further to pursue the efforts for nuclear disarmament.

Due to the kind invitation from Dr. Ronald Sturm (Deputy Director of the Department for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation of the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign affairs) to send a UWC RCN student to the conference as a representative of the College, Antonia Reininger (first year from Austria) had the opportunity to participate. She was also invited to join the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement Preparatory and Follow Up meetings as part of the Norwegian Red Cross delegation – as part of our College’s ongoing partnership with the Red Cross.

The conference offered a unique insight into international discussions about nuclear disarmament, facilitated interesting talks with NGO and state representatives and encouraged delegates to take action in the international efforts to pursue the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The documentation and speeches from the conference are available here. They give an overview of the issues discussed and will perhaps encourage further study.