Kjølv Egeland Awarded the Ingrid Aune Memorial Prize

Entretien/Analyse
Date : 
04/09/2020
Kjølv Egeland

Dr Kjølv Egeland is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in International Security at Sciences Po, CERI, focusing on strategic narratives and global nuclear order. Kjølv completed his DPhil at Wadham College, the University of Oxford, in 2018. In his thesis, he investigated the evolution of the institutional architecture for multilateral nuclear disarmament from 1968 to 2017. Kjølv’s scholarly interests lie in nuclear discourse and politics, the philosophy of international law, and ideology critique. Writing on topics spanning from treaty-making processes to emerging military technology, his work has appeared in journals such as Survival, Critical Studies on Security, Global Change, Peace & Security, and Global Governance.

You have just been awarded the Ingrid Aune Memorial Prize for your article “ Oslo’s ’New Track’: Norwegian Nuclear Disarmament Diplomacy, 2005–2013 ”, published in the Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament in 2019. Can you tell us what the main argument of your article is?

The article details the Norwegian government’s nuclear disarmament approach in the period from 2005 to 2013, as well as the context in which this approach emerged. I argue that the government’s so-called humanitarian initiative, which evolved into the movement for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was a product of thoughtful analysis of the challenges facing nuclear arms control and disarmament. Others have argued that the initiative and subsequent treaty initiative were “emotional” and rash. Analysing internal government memos, I show that this was not the case. The humanitarian initiative reflected a carefully deliberated effort at strategic norm creation.

On what grounds was your article selected for the prize? What’s the scope of the selection criteria?

According to the guidelines, the prize is to be awarded to a scholar or journalist who has made a particular contribution in the fields Ingrid Aune was most passionate about—disarmament, peace, gender equality, and women’s rights in conflict. This was the first year that the Prize was awarded.

The awarding committee—the board of the Ingrid Aune Memorial Foundation—maintained that my article made a positive scholarly contribution and could help advance democratic debate about nuclear disarmament and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The board states: “Nuclear disarmament was one of the causes Ingrid Aune defended. With this article, Egeland has helped illuminate the political debate about the nuclear weapons ban treaty and opened up for an enlightened discussion about Norway’s positioning at the UN.” I’m of course very happy and humbled by this recognition. Most importantly, though, it’s great that the Foundation and board have elected to devote attention to the issue of nuclear policy. The board is made up of nine members, including two members of parliament and the former minister of defence and foreign affairs.

Who was Ingrid Aune?

Ingrid Aune was the mayor (Labour) of Malvik, a municipality in the Trøndelag region, and a rising star in Norwegian politics. She was a student of international affairs and a committed internationalist. She died very young in a tragic accident last year, and the Foundation and Prize were established to honour her memory and carry her mission forward.

You were awarded the Prize together with Maren Sæbo. Can you tell us a little about her work?

Maren Sæbø was awarded the prize for her outstanding foreign affairs reporting, particularly her coverage of conflicts on the African continent. As the board says, high-quality foreign affairs journalism is increasingly under pressure as news organisations struggle with the new media environment.

The article Oslo’s ’New Track’: Norwegian Nuclear Disarmament Diplomacy, 2005–2013 has been published in Open Access. It is available online

Abstract:

Adopted by 122 non-nuclear-weapon states in July 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was promoted by a transnational network of government agencies, international organizations, and civil society actors. Now, as the agreement creeps towards entry into force, a debate about the history of the TPNW has begun. While supporters of the TPNW argue that the adoption of the treaty was a reasoned response to diplomatic impasse and the pileup of empirical evidence on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear detonations, revisionists have argued that the humanitarian initiative was never about banning nuclear weapons, but was hijacked by radicals eager to shame the Western nuclear powers or discredit the NPT. Reading the TPNW as a manifestation of “frustration” with lacking progress on disarmament in other forums, observers have framed the adoption of the TPNW as an irrational outburst of emotions. In this article, I investigate Norway’s nuclear disarmament diplomacy in the period from 2005 to 2013. Against the revisionists, I argue that the goal of negotiating a new legal instrument outlawing nuclear weapons provided a key aim for the Norwegian centre–left coalition government from 2010 onwards. Drawing on elite interviews, internal MFA documents released on freedom of information requests, and official statements by foreign policy officials, I maintain that the humanitarian initiative, including the pursuit of a new legal instrument, was products of a carefully deliberated policy of strategic social construction.

 

Photo copyright: Kjølv Egeland