Renowned National and International Experts to Address NYSBA International Section’s Conference on Nuclear Weapons

By Brendan Kennedy

November 9, 2020

Renowned National and International Experts to Address NYSBA International Section’s Conference on Nuclear Weapons


By Brendan Kennedy

The New York State Bar Association International Section is holding an all-day conference that will bring together leading public officials, thought-leaders, policymakers, and domestic and international experts for a comprehensive look at the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons.

The conference on “Nuclear Weapons and International Law in the Contemporary Era” will be held on Thursday, Nov. 12.  Major keynotes and other presentations will be made by:

  • Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations under-secretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs – Ranking UN official on disarmament.
  • Dr. Christopher Ashley Ford, U.S. ambassador, assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State – ranking State Department official on non-proliferation.
  • Gloria C. Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club of California, and former deputy assistant secretary of defense
  • Thomas Graham, Jr., former special representative for arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament; former general counsel, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency – Leading U.S. negotiator of seminal nuclear arms control treaties.
  • Kathleen Lawand, Strategic Adviser to Director of International Law and Policy, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Former Head of Arms Unit, ICRC
  • Jerry Brown, former California governor and executive chairman, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – a Leader of worldwide efforts to address nuclear weapons risks.

“I am pleased that the International Section has chosen to bring together such distinguished panelists to discuss this critically-important subject,” said NYSBA President Scott M. Karson. “As someone who grew up during the height of the Cold War, when atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons was commonplace, I vividly remember duck and cover drills at school and the fear our society had of these powerful and deadly weapons. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, we are all interconnected within the global community and, therefore, the threat of nuclear weapons belongs in the public discourse. I thank the International Section for putting it there.”

Karson will be among those introducing the conference, along with John Feerick, professor, and dean emeritus of Fordham Law School, Ariana N. Smith, executive director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, Jonathan Granoff, president, Global Security Institute, and Edward K. Lenci, chair-elect of the International Section and partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson in New York City.  Patricia Lee Refo, president of the American Bar Association, will offer remark at lunchtime.

Issues surrounding the risks nuclear weapons pose to society have largely fallen out of the public consciousness since the end of the Cold War but as this conference will demonstrate, they are still very much present. The conference will include panel discussions on the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons, the role of the United Nations, treaty regime rules and norms involving nuclear weapons, international law and the threat and use of nuclear weapons, and approaches for advancing the rule of law and morality with regard to nuclear weapons.

“The elimination of nuclear weapons transcends party politics,” said Lenci. “Given the geopolitics of climate change and international inequality, as well as the dangers of terrorism and rogue nations like North Korea, these weapons pose a greater threat to our society now than they did at the peak of the Cold War in the previous century.”

The conference is co-sponsored by international groups and committees of Fordham Law School, the Berkley Center for Religion Peace and World Affairs of Georgetown University, the American Bar Association, the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and a number of committees of the New York City Bar Association, the New York County Lawyers Association, the Global Security Institute, the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy.

“This conference will focus on the international law applicable to the threat and use of nuclear weapons and its implications,” said Charles J. Moxley Jr., professor at Fordham Law School and author of Nuclear Weapons and International Law in the Post-Cold War World. “International law, rather than some hoped-for resolution of strategic issues, may well hold the world’s best prospect for addressing and getting ahead of the existential risks posed by nuclear weapons.”

The virtual conference is free to all.  Click here to register for the event.


Contact: Brendan Kennedy
[email protected]

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