Paul Walker (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.


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.

”It is important for us all to recognise that during our short time on Mother Earth, we all must strive to leave this planet a more peaceful, just, and sustainable place for future generations to come.”
Paul Walker
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)


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