- Assets: $2,181,745,036 (2013)
- Grants Received: $84,000,000 (2013)
- Grants Awarded: $177,912,937 (2013)
Established in 1985, the Simons Foundation (SF) is a private charity committed to “advancing positive change through education in peace, disarmament, international law and human security.” Its founder was the nuclear-disarmament advocate Jennifer Allen Simons, PhD, who viewed the U.S. military buildup under President Reagan as a grave threat to world peace—a threat that could be diminished only by widespread “education on the dangers of nuclear weapons and the need for their elimination and prohibition for all time.”
Suggesting that “violence and aggression may be culturally determined” rather than innate human qualities, Dr. Simons has impugned America’s “war culture” and its propensity to use the tools and tactics of “terror”—i.e., its “nuclear umbrella,” its “tremendous investments in high-technological super weapons,” and its “weaponization of space”—to maintain a tenuous facade of national security. America’s militaristic impulses, Simons explains, are fostered by the nation’s obsessive pursuit of “perpetual economic growth” that is dependent upon “mindless production and consumption.” While calling for the use of nuclear weapons to be declared illegal under International Law, Simons nonetheless sympathizes with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contention that his own nation should be free to develop such weapons if it wishes. “I can understand his point, says Simons. “When Israel has them, all the Middle Eastern countries want them.”
A member organization of the Peace and Security Funders Group, SF views the existence of nuclear weapons as “the single greatest threat to humanity today.” “Much more must be done to achieve total prohibition and abolition” of such weapons, says the Foundation. Toward that end, SF initiates and participates in major worldwide peace projects; convenes global leaders for high-level strategic and policy dialogues; sponsors academic research through fellowships and chairs; acts as a major convenor of academic and public events; and produces publications dealing with nuclear policy.
SF aggressively promotes “disarmament education” whose aim is to help develop “critical capacities to challenge the structures of the war system,” and to emphasize “the necessity and reasons for disarmament.” Toward these ends, SF partnered with the University of British Columbia to create the Simons Centre in Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Research at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia.
One of SF’s major programs is called Global Zero, an international initiative dedicated to “public education, dialogue and awareness-raising among the public and opinion leaders about the urgent nuclear threat and proposals for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.” Launched in 2008, Global Zero convenes major international conferences; conducts media, online and grassroots communications; and organizes a global campus education and outreach program.
SF strongly opposed America’s 2002 withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, for fear that the move would “allo[w] the U.S. to proceed with the development of the Ballistic Missile Defense System, a stepping stone to space weapons.” “The weaponization of space could lead to an arms race in space and the likelihood of space warfare,” SF warns to this day.
Central to SF’s worldview is its support for the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, which holds that “when a state proves either unable or unwilling to protect peoples” from mass atrocities occurring within its borders, the responsibility for such intervention “shifts to the international community.” To help advance this view, SF has contributed large sums of money to the Will to Intervene Project (W2I), whose objective is to “pressure governments to prevent future genocides and other crimes against humanity.” SF also funded the production of a report titled The Responsibility to Protect, upon which W2I’s principles are based. Moreover, SF supports the use of the International Criminal Court as an agency authorized to overrule the dictates of any particular government.
In addition to its disarmament-related endeavors, SF also embraces the tenets of radical environmentalism, warning that “climate change” and “the melting [polar] icecaps” will increasingly “affec[t] sea life, birds, marine mammals and their habitats, and the food chain – destroying livelihoods and endangering the health of the indigenous populations.”
Among the organizations which have received funding from SF since 2000 are Alternatives, Amnesty International Canada, the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, the Nature Conservancy, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the Peace & Security Funders Group, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.