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Law School Team Helps Nuclear Disarmament Campaign Win Nobel Prize

Located at 6 Everett St, the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic recently took part in a Nobel Prize winning project.
Located at 6 Everett St, the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic recently took part in a Nobel Prize winning project. By Karina G. Gonzalez-Espinoza
By Emily H. Choi and Ahab Chopra, Contributing Writers

A team at the Law School chipped in on the work of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, providing legal advice as the group negotiated an unprecedented disarmament treaty.

The Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic joined ICAN in its work to pass a United Nations treaty in July asking countries to abolish their nuclear weapon programs and supplies. Fifty-three countries have so far signed the treaty, though the world’s nine major nuclear powers—including the United States—have boycotted the negotiations.

The IHRC group included four Law School students—Molly Doggett, Alice L.M. Osman, Carina M. Bentata Gryting, and Lan Mei—as well as Anna Crowe, an instructor at the clinic and Bonnie Docherty, a lecturer at the Law School.

“The treaty is a major step and a major step towards nuclear disarmament. It is not the end itself so we’d love to have nuclear states on board, but we’re not surprised and not concerned that they’re not on board,” Crowe said.

The treaty has met resistance from nations who criticize it as naive: In July, UN ambassadors for the United States, Britain, and France wrote a joint statement arguing that it “clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment.”

Crowe, however, said the treaty “sets a really high standard and stigmatizes nuclear armament”—critical first steps to reducing the world supply of nuclear weapons.

Matthew Bolton, a political science professor at Pace University who was also involved in the ICAN project, characterized the treaty as “a really good opportunity to put back on the table something that many people here in the United States and other nuclear-armed places have forgotten...which is that nuclear weapons cause tremendous harm.”

Docherty said the Law clinic was heavily involved with the project over the spring and summer, but had been working on humanitarian disarmament for years.

“When it became clear that the nuclear weapons issue was going to be taken up by the UN and there were going to be negotiations on a treaty, we immediately got engaged and offered our services to ICAN,” she said.

Crowe added that there is still significant work to be done on nuclear disarmament, and that a new team has been created to continue the progress of the clinic in the future.

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