Nuclear Dialogues

Between 2009 and 2013 I co-convened and facilitated dialogues on nuclear-related tensions and conflicts in both local and international fora. In particular, we focused on the proposal for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, thereby demonstrating the value of dialogue for the Nuclear Humanities more broadly. Although several other dialogues were initially planned with various third-parties in Florence and Birmingham, developments in international policy such as the stalling of the Helsinki process in 2013 and the achievement of a Nuclear Weapons Convention in 2017 have reduced the interest in regional approaches. The Nuclear Dialogues project has therefore been indefinitely placed on hold as at December 2013. To date, project highlights included the publication of a book translated into Hebrew, Farsi and Arabic, and the facilitation of over 50 hours of sustained dialogue in Australia, Europe and the Middle East:

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Dialogue I: 
Diaspora Dialogues [2008-10]

Australia is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multicultural society. Its future depends on the constructive engagement of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. Though they have lived in Australia for a number of years, ethno-specific groups that are on opposite sides of the conflicts in the Middle East have had remarkably little contact with each other. Isolation of this kind can deepen mistrust and suspicion, lead in some cases to provocative actions that hinder conflict resolution, deepen old divisions and create new tensions within Australia. There is therefore an urgent need to bring these groups together and facilitate constructive dialogue between them. Particularly since September 11, Australian multiculturalism has been severely tested. Sharp tensions have arisen in relation to international conflicts, including Lebanon, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, as well as the possession and use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Communities from the Middle East living in Australia have been deeply affected. They have close family and friends in their original homeland, which they often visit, and with which they retain strong emotional ties. Moreover, these conflicts are widely reported in Australia, and Australian governments and other organisations often take up positions on the conflicts, which are a cause for concern to themIt is therefore critically important that the communities most directly affected by the Middle Eastern conflicts have an opportunity to reflect on the situation–in a relaxed environment and with people in whom they have confidence–to identify the factors conducive to mistrust and suspicion, and foster the conditions for trust, mutual respect, dialogue and co-operation.

Role: co-investigator and co-author with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael 
Status:
complete [2008-10]
Output/s: 8x dialogues, 1x edited forum, and 1x commissioned report

Now complete, this sub-project resulted in the following outputs:

  1. Edited forum on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction of Israel for Crikey!by Amin Abbas, Antony Lowenstein, Kim Bullimore, Les Rosenblatt, and Moammar Mashni. [LINK]
  2. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community DialogueSidney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne: Australia, March 2, 2010. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
  3. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community Dialogue, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, University of Monash, Melbourne: Australia, February 16, 2010. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
  4. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community Dialogue, Queens College, University of Melbourne, Melbourne: Australia, November 29, 2009. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
  5. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community Dialogue, Centre for Theology & Ministry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne: Australia, November 17, 2009. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
  6. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community Dialogue, Centre for Theology & Ministry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne: Australia, November 8, 2009. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
  7. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community Dialogue, Kildara Centre, Melbourne: Australia, October 6, 2009. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
  8. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community Dialogue, Kildara Centre, Melbourne: Australia, August 19, 2009. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
  9. Capacity-building for Reconciling Divided Communities: Middle East Community Dialogue, Trinity College, University of Melbourne, Melbourne: Australia, July 12, 2009. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michalis S. Michael. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue, William Buckland Foundation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, VicHealth, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Sponsor/s:

William Buckland Foundation, Victorian Multicultural Commission and La Trobe University

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Dialogue II:
Athens Dialogue [2010-13]

La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue and the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) convened a re- gional dialogue in Athens on the proposal to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery (WMDFZ). In preparation since April 2010, the dialogue was the product of extensive consultation with key stakeholders in the Middle East as well as outside the region. Those invited to participate were drawn largely from Arab countries, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Invitations were also issued to a few others noted for their expertise or involvement in or support for the proposed UN Helsinki Conference. The Athens Dialogue produced a number of proposals which could be taken to further the goal of security in the Middle East and assist the negotiation of a WMDFZ. Writing in the Foreword to that volume, former vice-president of the International Court of Justice Judge Christopher Weeramantry wrote that the Athens Dialogue that he co-convened in 2012 was “outstanding” and “a significant step” that makes “a substantial contribution” to our understanding of the constraints and opportunities for comprehensive nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. In late-2012 and early-2013 I supplemented the dialogues with over one hundred interviews with political and cultural leaders in Iran, Israel and Egypt.

Role: co-principal investigator and co-author with Joseph A. Camilleri and Michael Hamel-Green
Status: complete [2010-13]
Output/s: 1x dialogue, 1x book, 1x article, 1x delivered paper, 1x submission, 5x commentaries

Now complete, this sub-project resulted in the following outputs:

  1. Joseph A. Camilleri, Michael Hamel-Green, Marianne Hanson, Michalis S. Michael and N.A.J. Taylor, Athens Dialogue on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction as well as their Means of Delivery(Athens: European Public Law Organization, 2013). [Translated into: Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew.] [LINK]
  2. N.A.J. Taylor and Joseph A. Camilleri, ‘Will Australia erode or build trust with Iran?’, The Guardian, July 15, 2013. [LINK]
  3. Public consultation on Australia’s sanctions relating to Iran, May 10, 2013. 8pp. [PDF]
  4. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘The Middle East needs to be a nuclear-weapon-free zone’, Al Jazeera English, January 12, 2013. [LINK
  5. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Dialogue, difference and disarmament’. Paper presented at the Middle East without Weapons of Mass Destruction: Civil Society Input Conference, World Peace Council and the Finnish Peace Committee, Helsinki, Finland, December 15, 2012. [PDF available on request]
  6. Athens Dialogue on a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery, European Public Law Organization, Sounio-Athens: Greece, November 14-16, 2012. Co-convenor and facilitator with Joseph A. Camilleri, Michael Hamel-Green, and Marianne Hanson. Sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue and the European Public Law Organization (EPLO), in association with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and the University of Queensland.
  7. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘The flaws of Obama’s arms control initiative’, Al Jazeera English, March 30, 2012. [LINK]
  8. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Since when has the Middle East sought to be WMD-free?’, Al Jazeera English, June 5, 2012. [LINK]
  9. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Iran is just the new Israel’, Al Jazeera English, March 21, 2012. [LINK]
  10. N.A.J. Taylor, Joseph A. Camilleri and Michael Hamel-Green, ‘Dialogue on Middle East biological, nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament: Constraints and opportunities’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol.38 No.1, 2013, pp.78-98. [An earlier sole-authored draft (‘Theatre of the Absurd’) was shortlisted for the Global Change, Peace & Security Award (2010) and Nonproliferation Review Award (2010).] [PDF]

Download (PDF, 2.61MB)

Sponsor/s: United Kingdom Foreign Office, European Public Law Organisation, La Trobe University, and the University of Queensland

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Dialogue III:
New York Dialogue [in development]

This project asks: What would a nuclear weapon-free world looklike? And, by extension, feellike? Many have advocated a nuclear weapon-free world but few have envisioned it as daily life. This project seeks to change the discourse on the establishment of zones free of nuclear (NWFZ) and other weapons of mass destruction (WMDFZ) by asking stakeholders to imaginea way of living unburdened by insecurity.We focus our energies on two existing policy proposals: the Northeast Asian NWFZ and the Middle East WMDFZ. A zone empty of nuclear (and other WMDs) could involve one district within one state or straddle across national boundaries. The visions could focus on a safer environment for education, technology, and/or investment, not to mention the latest advances in sustainable living. Wherever the locale and whatever the focus, our project’s query will stretch creative minds on what’s possible for the region rather than harp, as usual, on what’s not.

We take a multi-generational perspective. Achieving a nuclear-free world through the gradual spread of WMDFZs is not and cannot be a one-time policy declaration. Our re-imaginings must encompass generations across time and space. For this reason, we begin with ideal visions of what life could be like in a WMD-free world. The generation growing up in this environment will want to sustain it, ensuring the same for their children and so on. Ordinary citizens and residents in one area will thus join longstanding efforts to spread zones free of nuclear weapons and other WMDs until they cover the entire globe. You and I may not live to experience it. But at least we can begin it.

Our project aims also to learn from Others. This involves those typically silenced or marginalized by state-centric approaches. The lives of women, children, workers, immigrants, artists—those who take public transport to work everyday—are affected as much as those of strategists and government elites. Yet rarely are the former heard as the latter dominate all the policies and strategies on this matter. We will also learn from historical precedents. That is, we will draw lessons from those parts of the world that have transformed successfully from a militaristic to non-militaristic culture (e.g., Japan) and where a nuclear-weapon-free zone already prevails (i.e., Latin America, the Pacific Ocean, Southeast Asia).

Role: co-principal investigator with L.H.M. Ling and Ebrahim Sharifi
Status: in development
Activities: n/a
Sponsor/s: n/a

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The Nuclear Dialogues project has been indefinitely placed on hold as at December 2013. Current projects include Antipodean Antinuclearism and Nuclear Storytelling