Northeastern researcher named Nobel Peace Institute Fellow

Northeastern professor Denise Garcia was recently named a Nobel Peace Institute Fellow. File photo by Brooks Canaday/for Northeastern University

This year, Northeastern professor Denise Garcia joined a small, prestigious group of scholars and researchers named Nobel Peace Institute Fellows—an invitation-only program that coalesces some of the brightest minds in various fields to research issues of pressing global significance.

For the past few weeks, Garcia has been working at the institute’s home in Oslo, Norway, with a small group of colleagues to assess—and determine a path toward—global resilient peace.

Specifically, this year’s theme is “Disarmament and Armament Dynamics in the Present World.” Under that umbrella, Garcia and her colleagues have been exploring “the perils to peace and security arising from heightened international tensions and hostile rhetoric as the nuclear armed states wish to modernize and retain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely,” she said.

Garcia, associate professor of political science and international affairs, focuses her research broadly on international law and the questions of lethal robotics and artificial intelligence; global governance of security; and the formation of new international norms and their impact on peace and security.

At the Nobel Peace Institute, she’s bringing that focus to bear.

“I am exploring whether a treaty banning nuclear weapons will establish a new global international norm against the possession and legitimacy of nuclear weapons, and whether it will reduce their perceived value,” Garcia said. “Finally, I am examining the relevant branches of international law applicable to the global nuclear governance, and comparing this framework to other areas of disarmament and arms control.”

At a symposium Tuesday, Garcia argued for stronger laws—or in some cases, written laws at all—to govern the use of nuclear and autonomous weapons. Separately, she also participated in a recent panel discussion in Norway that dealt with the moral question related to artificially intelligent warfare.

“My research aims to demonstrate that humanity cannot relinquish our international legal and moral responsibilities, nor our humanity, and we must be vigilant about what kind of future we want,” she said.

To prepare for that future, one that is both peaceful and secure, “we must find common ground now and set commonly-agreed upon norms using precautionary legal frameworks.”