An Interview with Ms. Susi Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager, PAX
Upcoming posts will include a series of interviews with key individuals on their support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons after the conclusion of the 2018 NPT PrepCom.
1. What was your motivation for getting involved in nuclear disarmament activities?
I came into nuclear weapons with a sense of justice and fairness and I wanted to do something that made the world better. Before, I had worked with some environmental organizations and then I learned more about nuclear weapons. I learned about the human rights impact of nuclear weapons, about what testing did to people, about the absence of consultations, the absence of democracy. I felt nuclear weapons are not fair, not right.
As one person, I want to put my energy on the things that are I hope going to make the biggest difference and one of the biggest problems. That’s nuclear weapons.
2. Can you tell us about the “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” campaign?
When you think about nuclear weapons, you tend to think they are made by governments. What we found is that there are also private companies that make parts that are necessary for nuclear weapons. So we investigate which companies do this, and publish this information.
The idea behind “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” is to change the behavior of companies to stop that private production by cutting off the flow of money into those companies. We have been very successful with other prohibited weapons using this as a tactic. One weapons manufacturer just sent a paper to the US government saying they are no longer going to make cluster bombs because they can’t get investments.
3. What will be the next challenge or focus of activity?
We are going to get the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force, which means 50 ratifications. And we are going to make that happen working with parliamentarians, governments and through national systems. And part of doing that is also changing the way people talk about nuclear weapons, which is recognizing they are bombs that are designed to destroy cities, to kill people indiscriminately. That is why they were developed, that is the point of them.
If you are willing to destroy a city with a single weapon that means that’s taking away the rights and the dignity of all those in that city. And to be able to be willing to do that means you are rejecting every other option. I think that we are better than that as humans. We can find ways to solve our problems that don’t involve mass destruction.
4. How do you think women have influenced nuclear disarmament activities?
If you look at human rights, the movement around human rights and the understanding of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the covenants, the treaty bodies and the whole system exist through the passionate dedication of women.
It’s not because women are more peaceful, nor because women are smarter or anything like that. It’s because women in our society are trained to get what they want differently than men are. We are trained in a way that negotiation is necessary, and so that’s part of it—and I will say within the campaign we have some very passionate and dedicated women and very many passionate and dedicated men, and we work together as equals, and we respect one another.
It’s really important and the basis of this work is that respect for all humanity. This move toward a nuclear-weapon-free world is a part of a broader move toward quality of human rights, toward a better world for everyone in many ways; and we are not going to get there without women. Maybe it’s good to listen to women a little bit more than we sometimes do, especially when we are talking about this hard security issues.