Current Issues 8 – Non-Proliferation Treaty

Ramesh Thakur
Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo;
Distinguished Fellow,Centre for International Governance Innovation;
Inaugural Director, Balsillie School of International Affairs; and Former Assistant Security General, United Nations






Ramesh Thakur of the University of Waterloo discusses the historical beginnings and contemporary concerns surrounding the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In unpacking the broader institutional framework, Thakur employs a balanced ‘three-pillar’ approach. Among these columns, one can observe non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peaceful use of nuclear technology. For Thakur, these pillars arose from a number of historical dynamics between nuclear ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ states, particularly the fear of nuclear spread amongst ‘have’ states, and the competing desire for peaceful nuclear development amongst their ‘have-not’ counterparts. In fact, this relationship has been compounded by a number of comparatively recent developments, such as the growing interest in nuclear power technologies, the challenge of incorporating non-state actors into the normative architecture of the non-proliferation regime, and the lack of conclusive outcomes in ‘good faith’ disarmament negotiations. Thakur observes a cyclical dynamic in continuing rounds of negotiations, but suggests that long-term efforts aimed at elimination must be supplemented by short-term strategies for minimization.

Works By Ramesh Thakur

  • Thakur, Ramesh and Jayantha Dhanapala.  (2002, June 4).  Let’s get together against terrorism.  International Herald Tribune. Retrieved April 7, 2010, from
  • Boulden, Jane and Ramesh Thakur.  (2009).  The United Nations and nuclear orders. Tokyo: United Nations University Press.
  • Thakur, Ramesh, Jane Boulden and Thomas G. Weiss.  (2008).  Can the NPT regime be fixed or should it be abandoned?   Retrieved April 7, 2010, from <>

Additional Resources

Recorded on April 2010


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