Realising the Disarmament Institute (BRINDI)

This project, started in 2009 with funds from the legacy of the late Professor John Ziman FRS, aims to develop the concept of a proposed UK Disarmament Institute.

For some years, British Pugwash has been exploring how UK expertise might best be brought together to tackle the problems which need to be solved if the world is to achieve the long-term goal of global nuclear disarmament. In 2007 the idea of ‘global zero’ finally achieved political as well as intellectual respectability, with the publication of a letter in the Wall Street Journal by the US ‘gang of four’ – Schultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn. This was closely followed by Margaret Beckett’s keynote speech proposing that Britain should become a ‘disarmament laboratory’ for the world.

In 2008, British Pugwash proposed a set of concrete steps that the UK could take to realise this concept, through the establishment of a ‘British International Nuclear Disarmament Institute’ (BRINDI). We had initially hoped that this initiative could be linked to the Government’s proposal in The Road to 2010, its 2009 White Paper, for a ‘Centre of Excellence’ but sadly this was shelved.

The BRINDI project took a major step forward when, on 1 April 2014, a very successful day-long workshop brought together 20 UK experts to discuss an outline proposal for the creation of BRINDI, defining the possible scope of its work. BRINDI is envisaged as an independent institution that could advise governments, and bring together the technical, political, military, diplomatic and public outreach skills required eventually to reach global zero. The workshop also discussed how the relevant government stakeholders might be involved.

A Working Group of experts is now seeking to draw on the technical and scientific expertise that resides both in government, and in UK universities and NGOs, to help realise the BRINDI concept. Efforts will focus particularly on building political support for BRINDI, establishing key partnerships and assembling a strong management team with a charismatic Chief Executive to provide leadership to take BRINDI’s work forward, and raise the significant funding that will be required.