Societal Verification of Nuclear Disarmament in the 21st Century: A Workshop Report

Sara Al-Sayed, Alexander Glaser, Zia Mian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The idea that citizens, including scientists, and civil society groups be responsible for the monitoring and verification of their state’s compliance with nuclear weapons reduction and prohibition treaties–complementary to state-level and international agency mechanisms–has had various iterations. Each iteration reflected a particular historical moment of nuclear politics and identities, state-society relations, and possibilities for communication and collective action. A 2023 Princeton University Program on Science and Global Security workshop explored contemporary civil-society practices related to nuclear program monitoring and verification given the prevalence of internet connectivity, online publicly available data and tools, and cheap ubiquitous sensing from mobile cameras to commercial satellites. The aim of the workshop was to assess the potential and limits of such societal verification efforts. The workshop had three broad themes: the present context of societies, technologies, markets, and states within which civil-society does nuclear-activity monitoring and verification; how the uneven, hierarchical national and international distribution of power and relevant resources is enabling, shaping, and limiting the potential contributions of civil society to national and global security debates and decision-making; and the factors underlying the trustworthiness of civil-society nuclear-activity monitoring and verification practices and their outcomes as well as the relationship between trust (in data, processes, and institutions) and balanced practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-375
Number of pages11
JournalJournal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Societal verification
  • Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
  • nuclear arms control
  • nuclear disarmament
  • nuclear monitoring and verification
  • nuclear proliferation


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