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Discussion Starters


Nuclear Weapons

  • What is the difference between non-proliferation and total disarmament?
  • Why do some member states within the UN favor non-proliferation and others total disarmament?
  • Why do some countries want to develop nuclear weapons?
  • Are there any countries that have dismantled their nuclear weapon programs?
  • Which countries have nuclear weapons?
  • Which are the countries that are currently trying to develop nuclear weapons and why?
  • Do people need nuclear weapons for self-defense?
  • What international treaties exist to prevent the development and use of nuclear weapons?
  • Why would a country sign and ratify these treaties?
  • Why would a country not sign or sign but not ratify these treaties?
  • What is the effectiveness of multilateral treaties?
  • What do we do with existing nuclear weapons?
  • How do we decommission existing nuclear weapons in a safe way for both the environment and for people?
  • Have nuclear weapons ever been used? If so, how have nuclear weapons been used?
  • Are there any dangers in testing nuclear weapons?
  • How are nuclear weapons tested?
  • Which countries have tested nuclear weapons?
  • How many nuclear weapons exist in the world today?
  • Are nuclear weapons today more powerful than those built during the Cold War?
  • Which states own the majority of the world’s nuclear weapons?
  • How are nuclear warheads deployed, on which delivery systems?
  • Is total disarmament possible?
  • Has any country ever given up its nuclear weapons?

Small Arms and Light Weapons

  • What is the difference between gun control and disarmament?
  • Do people need small arms for self-protection?
  • How many small arms are there in the world?
  • Where do small arms come from? Which countries make and sell small arms?
  • Why do people want small arms?
  • Which countries purchase small arms?
  • Who are the victims of violence associated with small arms?
  • How many people die each year from small arms related violence?
  • Which countries suffer the most casualties from small arms?
  • Why do some people refer to small arms as weapons of mass destruction?
  • Can you estimate the number of small arms in any one country?
  • How many people are shot but survive?
  • Where are the "hot spots" around the world where lethal violence is associated with small arms?
  • Who manufacturers the majority of small arms?
  • What is the most famous small weapon in the world?
  • Who sells and who buys small arms?
  • Why do small arms flow from one part of the world to another?
  • What strategies exist for small arms disarmament?
  • How can the international community control and prevent the traffic of small arms?
  • What can be done with guns already in existence, especially stockpiles of small arms?
  • What steps is the UN currently taking to address the proliferation of small arms?
  • Which countries manufacture light weapons?
  • Should we be concerned about the legal trade of light weapons?
  • Or should we be more concerned about the illicit traffic of these weapons?
  • How are light weapons trafficked illegally?
  • Where are the current "hot spots" where light weapons are trafficked and why are weapons flowing to these areas?
  • What steps could the international community make to control and prevent the trade and proliferation of light weapons?
  • What measures have been taken so far by the UN?

Chemical, Biological and Toxin Weapons

  • Have chemical, biological and toxin weapons ever been used in any other war besides World War I? If so, where have they been used, and by whom?
  • What living organisms can be used to make biological weapons?
  • Are there any known stockpiles of chemical, biological and toxin weapons; if so where?
  • What are the known effects of chemical, biological and toxin weapons on the body?
  • Is there an international treaty that prohibits the manufacutre and use of chemical, biological and toxin weapons manufacture and use?

Radiological Weapons

  • What is a dirty bomb?
  • Is there any indication that such bombs actually exist in the world?
  • Which countries in the world have nuclear power plants?
  • What are the potentially hazardous and radioactive materials manufactured in nuclear power plants?
  • What happens with the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants?
  • Are there international safeguards for radioactive materials? If so, what international body is responsible for safeguards?
  • Is there an international treaty that bans the manufacture of radiological weapons?

Major Conventional Weapons

  • Which countries manufacture heavy conventional weapons?
  • Furthermore, which are the leading states that export conventional weapons and ammunition?
  • Which countries purchase conventional weapons?
  • How much money do you think is spent buying conventional weapons each year?
  • Can you think of any recent conflicts or wars which involved the transfer of conventional weapons?
  • Do arms-exporting states have the responsibility to prevent weapons from being used to fuel conflicts and human rights abuses?
  • And should there be stronger international controls on the transfer of conventional weapons?

Landmines and Cluster Bombs

  • Which countries manufacture landmines?
  • Which countries manufacture cluster bombs?
  • Can you think of any recent conflicts, which involved the use of anti-personnel weapons?
  • Do states that manufacture landmines and cluster bombs have the responsibility to remove live munitions in post conflict situations?
  • How are landmines and cluster bombs detected and decommissioned, or taken apart in the field?
  • Which countries have the most casualties due to landmines?
  • Describe what you think might happen if someone stepped on a landmine or picked up a bomblet?
  • Are there any treaties banning the use of land mines and cluster bombs?