“Peace in Science”: Negotiating hope and fear in UNESCO’s promotion of peaceful uses of atomic energy ca. 1946-1975.

Publikation: Working paper

Abstract

The nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki signaled a change in the ways international power relations were to be constructed in the second half of the 20th century. It changed the national security policies and foreign relations policies of many industrialized countries. But more than that, the tragic atomic destruction of the two cities gave rise to several critical questions regarding the relationship between (natural) science and society, and the moral responsibilities of the scientist. Within this atmosphere UNESCO (among several other international organizations) attempted to take a leading role in the new international atomic field. The aim of the science related departments of UNESCO (NS, ED, PS) were twofold. Through education, journals and science exhibitions, they wanted to dislodge the ideas of atomic energy from its destructive roots and make it a symbol of development and a promise of global prosperity and peace. Furthermore, the UNESCO natural science department made serious efforts to become the international coordinating body for atomic energy, which was contemplated in the international community from 1945.
The very nature of the atomic energy-case so deeply entrenched in national security affairs of powerful states, but at the same time - and due to the potential destructive effects - forcefully situated on the agendas of IO’s, offers us an opportunity to examine and nuance the arguments of both realists and internationalists. As the paper will show, UNESCO’s involvement in the field of atomic energy – initially being very active, later being circumvented and left somewhat in the dark by the US – lends strength to the realist argument that IO’s merely functions as extensions of powerful nation-states. On the other hand, the role of UN and the creation of the IAEA testify to the internationalists’ argument that IO’s have had a significant role to play, not least due to their supra-national status.
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Detaljer

Bidragets oversatte titelFred i forskning : Forhandlinger af håbe og frygt i UNESCO's promovering af atomenergi ca. 1946-1975
The nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki signaled a change in the ways international power relations were to be constructed in the second half of the 20th century. It changed the national security policies and foreign relations policies of many industrialized countries. But more than that, the tragic atomic destruction of the two cities gave rise to several critical questions regarding the relationship between (natural) science and society, and the moral responsibilities of the scientist. Within this atmosphere UNESCO (among several other international organizations) attempted to take a leading role in the new international atomic field. The aim of the science related departments of UNESCO (NS, ED, PS) were twofold. Through education, journals and science exhibitions, they wanted to dislodge the ideas of atomic energy from its destructive roots and make it a symbol of development and a promise of global prosperity and peace. Furthermore, the UNESCO natural science department made serious efforts to become the international coordinating body for atomic energy, which was contemplated in the international community from 1945.
The very nature of the atomic energy-case so deeply entrenched in national security affairs of powerful states, but at the same time - and due to the potential destructive effects - forcefully situated on the agendas of IO’s, offers us an opportunity to examine and nuance the arguments of both realists and internationalists. As the paper will show, UNESCO’s involvement in the field of atomic energy – initially being very active, later being circumvented and left somewhat in the dark by the US – lends strength to the realist argument that IO’s merely functions as extensions of powerful nation-states. On the other hand, the role of UN and the creation of the IAEA testify to the internationalists’ argument that IO’s have had a significant role to play, not least due to their supra-national status.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
StatusIkke-udgivet - 1 jan. 2018
PublikationsartForskning
Peer reviewJa

    Forskningsområder

  • UNESCO
ID: 265933955