Nobel-Prize Winning ICAN Attorney Speaks to Students about Nuclear Weapons

Attorney Seth Shelden of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) told Hun students recently about the group’s success in passing a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. The treaty, signed by 121 nations, bans the testing, use, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.  ICAN will receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in December. 
Mr. Shelden spoke to the School’s leadership seminar class, which is required of all tenth graders, on November 1 via Hun’s remote Polycom learning system. Mr. Shelden said his organization, the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, which is part of ICAN, helped write the U.N. treaty, which bans the development and ownership of nuclear weapons in these countries.
“None of the nuclear states were in the room, but it was the best success we could have asked for,” said Mr. Shelden of the treaty vote. The nine nations known or strongly suspected of possessing nuclear weapons are the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Israel, and recently, North Korea. There are more than 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with 90 percent of them held by the U.S. and Russia.
 
Despite the absence of those powers, Norway’s Nobel Committee announced on October 6 that ICAN would receive the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize
 
“(ICAN) is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons,” read a statement by the Committee.
 
Mr. Shelden, who is an intellectual property attorney, wrote a thesis in college at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill about the Israeli nuclear program. (Israel still declines to confirm or deny the program’s existence.) Then, last year, Mr. Shelden, now a teacher at the City University of New York School of Law, taught law classes in Japan. He visited Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs in World War II. He learned about the long-lasting effects the bombs had on Japanese society and found himself again drawn to the issue.
 
With relations between North Korea and the U.S. deteriorating recently, Mr. Shelden became concerned.
 
“I realized this was going to be an enormous issue, and that we could be threatened with another (nuclear) situation very soon,” said Mr. Shelden. “I wondered what action I could take.”  That action was joining the Lawyers Community on Nuclear Policy.
 
“There’s a new piece of international law, and we played a part in making that happen,” he said.
 
Hun boarding student Daniil Tiugaev, who comes from Penza, Russia, attended the seminar. He agreed with Mr. Shelden’s theory that it’s unlikely that countries holding these weapons can be convinced to give them up. However, Daniil lauded Mr. Shelden’s work.
 
“You can’t uninvent the weapons, they will always be there,” he said. “But if you can outlaw them (in these treaty countries,) maybe it will have some effect.” 
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The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school.  Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.

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