Paul Walker

(2013, USA)

...for working tirelessly to rid the world of chemical weapons.


Dr. Paul Walker is one of the most effective advocates for the abolition of chemical weapons. His leadership has helped to safely and verifiably eliminate more than 55,000 metric tons of chemical weapons from six declared national arsenals. He has been key to leveraging over one billion dollars annually in effective programmes for arms control, disarmament, threat reduction and non-proliferation. Paul Walker has engaged government leaders, NGOs, think tanks and citizens’ groups around the world to work towards full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and for a world free from the dangers of chemical weapons. 

Contact Details

Paul F. Walker
Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International
pwalker (at)

Geneva Headquarters Green Cross International:
9-11 rue de Varembe, Geneva 1202, Switzerland
Phone: +41-22-789-1662 (Paul Garwood, Director of Communications)

Washington DC Office Green Cross International:
1100 15th Street, NW, Suite 1100, Washington DC 20005, USA
Phone: +1-202-222-0700 (Finn Longinotto, Senior Fellow)


Paul F. Walker was born on April 28, 1946. Having completed his Bachelor’s degree in modern languages in 1968 at the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts), he served in the US Army as a Russian Intelligence Specialist for the Army Security Agency. Following his discharge in 1971, he returned to university, completing an MA degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (Washington DC) in 1973, and his PhD in Political Science in 1978 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Paul Walker’s strong and lasting commitment to peace and justice, arms control and disarmament, and non-violence stems from his undergraduate Jesuit training at Holy Cross, his military service during the height of the Vietnam war, and also his graduate internship at the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA).

Walker worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Science and International Affairs and published a book, The Price of Defense, with the Boston Study Group arguing that US foreign and military policy should be transformed into a more preventive, more diplomatic, and less militarised practice.  Walker also founded the nuclear arms control program of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in 1979, and published a second volume, The Nuclear Almanac, with Harvard and MIT colleagues.  

He subsequently served as National Director of Education and Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) from 1982-1983.

While at UCS, he helped to defeat the new, proposed MX mobile strategic missile scheme, and also launched the first national teach-in on nuclear weapons and war on Veterans’ Day, November 11, 1981.  While at PSR, he managed the medically accredited educational programs on the health effects of nuclear weapons and war, and was also called as a defense expert witness in many legal trials of anti-nuclear peace activists in the United States.

He was also Co-Director of the Institute for Peace and International Security from 1986-93, and organised the first Soviet-US-European working groups on “common security”. From 1993-95, he worked as a professional staff member for the Committee on Armed Services in the United States House of Representatives. It was during this period, in July 1994, that he organised the first US on-site inspection of a Russian chemical weapons stockpile, Shchuch’ye in the Kurgan Oblast of Russia, and helped to establish US financial and technical support for the Russian CW destruction program. 

In 1995, Paul Walker took up the position of Director, Legacy of the Cold War Program, with Global Green USA, the US national affiliate of Green Cross International (GCI), set up by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993. This program was later renamed the Environmental Security and Sustainability Program, and Walker has continued to lead its very important efforts to safely secure and eliminate weapons – nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional – across the globe.

Working for a chemical weapon free world
Universal revulsion at the horrific effects of chemical weapons on human life, which resulted in some 90,000 casualties in the First World War, led governments to take systematic measures to prohibit it. The Geneva Protocol of 1925 banned the use of chemical weapons, and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1997 went further to also outlaw its development, production, and stockpiling. Prohibition of the manufacture and use of chemical weapons is today widely accepted as a principle of customary international law, binding on all states. Paul Walker has worked relentlessly at all levels – with local US and Russian citizens, ministries and militaries, public health and environmental groups, and internationally with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction  – to implement this international norm and facilitate cooperative, safe, environmentally sound, and timely elimination of all chemical weapons globally.

The CWC mandates that all declared CW stockpiles be destroyed by April 2012. When Syria acceeded to the Convention in October 2013, 190 countries were states parties to the CWC. Six countries are yet to ratify the Convention (Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, South Sudan). Of the seven declared possessor States Parties to the Convention, three have successfully eliminated their stockpiles – Albania in 2007, South Korea in 2008 and India in 2009. In January 2012, the US had destroyed 89.7% of its 28,600 metric tons, and Russia has destroyed 75% of its 40,000 metric tons. A few tons of Libya’s much smaller stockpile still remain to be destroyed, and Iraq’s chemical weapons-related equipment and old weapons also await elimination.

As Director of Environmental Security and Sustainability (ESS) at Green Cross International, Paul Walker has led the Program for the last seventeen years in its local, regional, national, and global efforts to safely demilitarise and abolish chemical weapons stockpiles and fully implement the 1997 CWC. Under Walker’s leadership, the ESS Program has helped to safely and verifiably eliminate some 55,000 metric tons of chemical weapons (over four million munitions and almost 80% of the world’s declared stockpile) and has been key to facilitating over one billion dollars annually in successful international programs in the US for arms control, disarmament, threat reduction, and non-proliferation. He and his Green Cross colleagues were also very important in the 1997 ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention in both the Russian Duma and the US Senate.

Walker’s recent advocacy efforts have also centred on trying to persuade the above mentioned countries still not party to the CWC, including until recently, Syria, to join the abolition regime. 

Paul Walker is known for his skills in bringing together and engaging various stakeholders from around the world. For instance, under the auspices of the Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition (CWCC) that Paul Walker coordinates, civil society participation has increased to over 150 NGO registered representatives in the 17th annual CWC Conference of States Parties in November 2012.

Promoting environmentally sound pathways for the actual physical destruction of chemical weapons
Walker has been instrumental in working across the political spectrum in the US to secure funds and support for chemical weapons destruction in both the US and Russia. Since he participated in a US on-site inspection of one of Russia’s seven declared CW stockpiles in 1994, as noted earlier, Paul Walker has helped to appropriate annual congressional funding of over $500 million for the US Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR or “Nunn-Lugar”) Program, over $1 billion for the US chemical weapons destruction program, and another $1 billion for nuclear non-proliferation efforts.  

Working closely with Green Cross colleagues in Green Cross Russia and Green Cross Switzerland, he has helped facilitate local dialogues, public hearings, and the first Citizens’ Advisory Commissions (CACs) in Russia in order to promote transparency, stakeholder involvement, democratic decision-making, and community empowerment in weapons demilitarisation efforts. He and his Green Cross colleagues have also begun to address not only the elimination of declared CW stockpiles, but also recognition of – and pilot programs for addressing – the thousands of burial sites of toxic chemical agents and weapons on land and in every ocean of the world from the last century.

A role model for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction
Walker is active on the whole range of issues around other weapons of mass destruction. He believes that the global and verified elimination of a whole class of weapons of mass destruction – chemical weapons – will serve as a role model for a world free of both nuclear and biological weapons, and promotes the CWC as a non-proliferation model.

Walker has organised side events at the regular annual review conferences of the Biological Weapons Convention, advocating for both the strengthening of the Convention, and for states to take stronger measures to prevent the potential misuse of deadly diseases and to protect public health and the environment.

In the 1990s, he supported and shared strategies with anti-nuclear weapons advocates who brought the case that determined that the use of nuclear weapons were illegal under most circumstances to the International Court of Justice. In 1995, Walker worked indefatigably to support Daniel Ellsberg’s (Right Livelihood Award 2006) extended fast to win meaningful action by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference towards nuclear weapons abolition. His outreach and diplomacy led to broad media attention for Ellsberg’s fast and helped in the creation of Abolition 2000, a network of civil society nuclear weapons abolitionists which presented 21 million signatures calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons to the UN General Assembly in 2010. The same year, he successfully lobbied lawmakers for US Senate ratification of the new START agreement on strategic nuclear weapons between the US and Russia.


During the course of his long and distinguished career, Paul Walker has been recognised by a number of awards and fellowships, including the Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission (1995), the Special Recognition Award from the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (1985 and 1999), the Sanctae Crucis Award (Highest Alumni Award) from the College of the Holy Cross (2007), and, most recently, the Sidel-Levy Award for Peace (2012) from the American Public Health Association.


Award Acceptance Speech by Paul Walker

2 December 2013  

I am very pleased to receive this award from the Right Livelihood Award Foundation this evening and want to thank the Award Jury, my nominator, Gail Rowan (who is here this evening), and all involved in what is no doubt a very tough selection process each year.  I am also very pleased to be in the special company of my three fellow Laureates, Raji Sourani, Denis Mukwege, and Hans Herren, and also to join the wonderful fellowship of the many other laureates since 1980. 

I am very honoured to be selected for “working tirelessly to rid the world of chemical weapons.” Following military service in the US Army during the height of the Vietnam War, I returned to graduate school at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, from which I had been drafted for military duty three years earlier, in Washington DC. I was fortunate to be able to do a graduate student internship at the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) in the early 1970s, during the first Soviet-American strategic arms control talks which resulted in the SALT I bilateral agreement in 1972. This was a very good early lesson for me in the hardball politics of Washington when the chief US negotiator, Gerard Smith, who was also the ACDA Director, was forced by Congress to resign, along with all the ACDA division directors as the price to pay for Senate ratification of SALT I. 

I went on to finish a Ph.D. in Political Science, specializing in foreign and military policy, international security, arms control and disarmament.  Back then we called it “bombs and bullets.”  And that was followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University in science, arms control, and global politics where I finished a book, The Price of Defence, arguing that we could obtain better international security by spending much less, not more, on military forces.  But three decades or more ago, I would never have guessed that I would spend so much time focusing on the nonproliferation and physical destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles.

It was the summer of 1994, almost twenty years ago, when I organized the first US on-site inspection of a Russian chemical weapons stockpile. The Soviet Union and the United States had agreed in the late 1980s that chemical weapons were increasingly obsolete, dangerous, and costly Cold War weapons that should be abolished. The US began planning the full elimination of its large chemical weapons stockpile of some 28,600 metric tons at nine stockpiles in the mid-1980s.  It started up its first prototype destruction facility on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean in 1990, designed to incinerate over 1,800 metric tons of chemical weapons secretly moved in prior years from forward deployment in Germany and Okinawa.  But Russia, traumatised by the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, was a few years behind. 

Our US delegation in July 1994 consisted of an Assistant Secretary of Defence, the US Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization, two congressmen, and staff.  I was one of the staffers from the Armed Services Committee in the US House of Representatives. The stockpile we visited was the easternmost of Russia’s seven declared chemical weapons stockpiles in a rural Siberian area called Shchuch’ye.  This is in the Kurgan Oblast of Russia, between the regional capital of Kurgan, and Chelyabinsk, along the Kazakhstan border, east of the Ural Mountain Range, about a three-hour flight from Moscow. 

After undergoing basic exams and gas mask tests, we were led by the Russian Army General in charge of chemical weapons into a large forest with dilapidated warehouses filled with nerve agent artillery shells and missile warheads as far as the eye could see. This remote and until-then top secret stockpile held some two million battlefield-ready weapons, stored in wooden racks like vintage wines. We were amazed at the size of the stockpile, a total of 5,400 metric tons, with very limited security. And this was only one of seven such stockpiles in Russia at the time. The warehouses were locked with bicycle padlocks, there was no apparent inventory of the weapons, no environmental monitoring for leakage, and the young Russian army private at the front gate hadn’t been paid in six months. Keep in mind that only one of these two million weapons could kill thousands of innocent individuals if deployed in a crowded theatre, stadium, or other enclosed space. 

We returned to Washington DC several days later, convinced that this had to be a top priority for the US and Russian governments – that is, the immediate security of these stockpiles and the timely elimination of them before they disappeared into the hands of subnational groups or individuals who wanted to do harm. Tragically, one year later we saw the Japanese terrorist group, Aum Shimrikyo, use sarin nerve agent, not dissimilar from the recent Syrian attacks, on the Tokyo subway, killing a dozen people and injuring some 12,000. This was clearly a wake-up call for preventing the Cold War chemical weapons arsenals from disappearing into the hands of terrorists. 

Three years later, in 1997, the international Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force, and both the US and Russia, after very contentious ratification struggles in Washington and Moscow, were among the early signatories and ratifiers of the treaty.  The US by then had destroyed over 1,400 metric tons, 5% of its stockpile, but Russia had many other priorities. Fortunately, the US had the foresight to establish the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR or “Nunn-Lugar”) Program in the early 1990s to help Russia secure and destroy its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs; I was pleased to have been a part of the creation of this $400-500 million annual program when I served on the Armed Services Committee, and we knew that it would be put to good use on chemical weapons destruction in Russia. 

In addition to helping Russia begin its own chemical weapons destruction program, the US also agreed to have a new environmental organization chaired by Mikhail Gorbachev - Green Cross International - begin an effort to help facilitate Russia’s chemical weapons destruction program. We realized in the mid-1990s that Russia’s nuclear, chemical, and biological programs and stockpiles were so top-secret that any major demilitarization effort would take considerable public dialogue, facilitation, and mediation to be successful. So I was very fortunate, along with my Green Cross colleagues in our national affiliates in Russia and Switzerland, to begin a dedicated public outreach and facilitation process at every Russian chemical weapons stockpile. 

At the same time we also proposed a development and evaluation effort in the United States to investigate non-incineration technologies for destroying chemical weapons. The US Army, with the support of the National Academy of Sciences, had naively proposed that incinerators be built at all nine US chemical weapons stockpiles, and were shocked when there was public opposition to the burning of VX and other deadly nerve agents upwind of their children’s schools and homes.

I helped to draft the legislation for the so-called Assembled Chemicals Weapons Assessment (ACWA) Program to look at alternative technologies for safe and timely chemical weapons destruction. We were able to pass an initial appropriation for $60 million for this in the mid-1990s, against the wishes of the US Army, and today four of the nine US stockpile sites have used, or will use, neutralisation rather than incineration for destruction of their chemical weapons stockpiles. 

By 2002, Russia had improved security at two of its seven chemical weapon stockpile sites – Shchuch’ye and Kizner – which together held over 11,000 metric tons of nerve agents in over four million portable artillery shells. And, with the help of Germany, Russia began operating its first destruction facility to neutralize lewisite, an old blister agent, at Gorny in the Saratov Oblast. Russia had declared 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents, still a third larger than the US stockpile. The year, 2002, was also an historic year because it was then that a dozen or more additional countries came together at Kananaskis, Canada, with the leadership of Canada and the US, to establish the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, otherwise known simply as the “Global Partnership.”  This group, which today consists of two dozen countries, pledged $20 billion over a decade to help Russia destroy its nuclear and chemical weapons.  The Global Partnership, with which we have worked closely for many years now, has been essential to the success of Russia’s chemical weapons destruction program to date, providing well over $2 billion in support since 2002. 

Today, after 23 years of difficult, contentious, and costly destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles in six countries – Albania, India, Libya, Russia, South Korea, and the United States – we have eliminated over 58,000 metric tons of deadly agent and millions of chemical munitions, all inspected and verified by the highly qualified inspectorate of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. This is an enormous and remarkable achievement, and has taken tens of billions of dollars, thousands of dedicated workers, and much involvement of governments, private industry, and civil society.  About 80% of the declared stockpiles have now been destroyed, with the last 13,000 metric tons or so to take another decade.  These reside in four known countries – the US, Russia, Libya, and Iraq, plus some 1,000 metric tons in Syria, and a large undeclared stockpile in North Korea, and possibly Israel and Egypt.

But many additional challenges lie ahead. Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in September is a major, historic step forward toward full universality of the abolition regime, but six countries still remain outside of the CWC – Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, and South Sudan.  Now that Syria has become the 190th State Party, it is time that both Israel and Egypt, the only two remaining Mideast countries outstanding from the CWC, join the Convention, and begin working towards a complete Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East. 

As you’ve seen in the news recently, the safe, secure, and timely elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons program will not be easy, but I am very pleased that many European countries have contributed to this effort with voluntary financial and in-kind contributions. And given the excellent cooperation of Syria in recent weeks, I remain optimistic that this effort will be successful. 

Before I became preoccupied – some might say obsessed – with the abolition of chemical weapons some two decades ago, I spent a great deal of time focusing on the control and disarmament of nuclear weapons. In earlier positions with the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, I organized the first US university teach-in on nuclear weapons and nuclear war in 1981, much along the lines of the anti-Vietnam War teach-ins of the 1960s and 1970s.  We also were successful in stopping the mobile deployment of the MX nuclear missile in the early 1980s, and I worked a great deal also on the ratification of the several Soviet-American and Russian-American bilateral strategic nuclear arms agreements since 1972 – SALT I and II, START I and II, the Moscow Treaty, and the most recent 2010 New START agreement.  

But, regardless of these successes in arms control and disarmament, we must continue our national and international struggles to abolish all weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical, and biological. We must strengthen the multilateral inspection and verification regimes which help guarantee that these horrible, inhumane weapons never reemerge during times of crises – the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and other such international conventions to improve security and sustainability for our planet and humankind.

Our ongoing work focuses on the demilitarisation of our modern world and includes promotion of peace, non-violent resolution to conflict, and a more just society.  Other related precepts which we have always adhered to include transparency, rule of law, public dialogue, nondiscrimination (to include arms control, disarmament, and abolition regimes), stakeholder involvement, and empowerment of communities. 

It should also be pointed out that all of the work we are celebrating today – human rights, public health, disarmament, nonproliferation, disease prevention – are all very much interrelated. I have always felt that healthy communities must be peaceful, and peaceful communities must also be healthy. So we must always recognize that the many threats to security and sustainability must be dealt with through a multidisciplinary approach. We have to think globally, but also act locally. 

Lastly, I would like to congratulate the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague for winning the Nobel Peace Prize this year. This multilateral organization has overseen and verified the destruction of chemical weapons since it entered into force over sixteen years ago and has quietly but with a determined mind made our world a much safer and peaceful place. I will be proud to attend the Nobel ceremony next week in Oslo, and also give the organisation much credit for supporting the involvement of civil society. And, most importantly, the Right Livelihood Award and the Nobel Peace Prize have brought much needed public attention now to this very important effort to build a world free of chemical weapons. 

Thank you all again for this wonderful award, and may we all – and I emphasise all, for it indeed takes everyone – continue to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and productive world.


Toxic Politics - Paul Walker in Russia Today

(October 2013)

About Green Cross ESS Program

(September 2013)

Paul Walker about Green Cross and his work

(June 2012 at Rio+20) 


Articles about Syria

Articles by Paul Walker:

Putin's credibility on the line with Syria plan - The Moscow Times - September 2013. Online available here.

How to secure Syria's chemical weapons - Christian Science Monitor - September 2013. Online available here.

How to destroy chemical weapons - Bulletin of Economic Scientists - September 2013. Online available here.

Articles quoting Paul Walker:

What chemical weapons does Syria have? - The Washington Post - September 2013. Online available here.

Turn Syria crisis into opportunity to rid world of chemical weapons -Green Cross - September 2013. Online available here

General Articles

The Global Abolition of Chemical Weapons - Disarmament Forum - United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) - 2012. 

Strengthening the OPCW - OPCW Today - 2012, pp. 4-5. 

Abolishing Chemical Weapons: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities- Arms Control Association - 2010. Online available here

2009 National Security and Nonproliferation Briefing Book - Peace and Security Initiative - 2008. 

A long way to go in eliminating chemical weapons - Boston Globe - May 1, 2006.

The real chemical threat - Los Angeles Times - April 1, 2006. Read online here.

Implementing Chemical Weapons Destruction in Russia: An Investigation of Best Practices in WMD Demilitarization - Strengthening the Global Partnership (SGP) Issue Brief, Washington DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies - 2006.

The Legacy of Reykjavik and the Future of Nuclear Disarmament. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 67 (6), 2001: 63-72. Read abstract here.

Citizen Advisory Boards and Public Involvement: The Role of Citizens in Public Decision-Making, Post-Cold War Demilitarization, and Environmental Clean-Up. Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, 12 (2), 2001: 117-133.

Congress, Cooperative Threat Reduction, and Russian Chemical Weapons Destruction. Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, 11 (4), 2001: 135-140.

Environmental Management of Military Munitions and Lands. Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, Autumn 2000: 141-146.

Nongovernmental Organization Perspective: The Challenge of Destroying Chemical Weapons. Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, Summer 2000: 135-140.


Russian Chemical Weapons Demilitarization: Successes and Challengesin R.J. Einhorn & M.A. Flournoy (eds), Protecting Against the Spread of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons: An Action Agenda for the Global Partnership, Washington DC: CSIS, January 2003, pp. 53-69.

The Nuclear Almanac: Confronting the Atom in War and Peace. MIT staff. Addison-Wesley, 1984.

The Price of Defence: A New Strategy for Military SpendingBoston Study Group, Times Books 1979.


Background information

Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction - Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons



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