The Sokovia Accords and The Non-Proliferation Treaty


Captain America: Civil War, which opened last summer, received critical and public acclaim. The story has had twelve movies leading up to it, building to the breaking point we see in Civil War, and, as Chris Klimek of NPR said: “It’s the Vibranium standard for super-team flicks.”

The Civil War, based on the 2006 comic of the same name, pivots on the ideological differences of Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) on the Sokovia Accords. Following the destruction in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the bombing at the Vienna international center, The United Nations wants to impose a set of regulations to control the Avengers.

Professor of Geography and Political Science at Rowan University, with a PhD in Geography, Katrinka Somdahl-Sands explains that the purpose of the Sokovia Accords is the idea of accountability, “One of the problems most superhero movies have…is that they blow stuff up all the time and nobody seems to care. This idea of the Sokovia Accords, there’s a consequence; they blew up buildings, people died, and the international community is trying to figure out ‘how are we going to bring governance to these individuals who are beyond the control of a nation-state.”


What we see in the movie is the two sides to this understanding of accountability. Iron Man, who is on the side of UN regulation of The Avengers, believes as Professor Somdahl-Sands explains, “If we aren’t doing anything wrong, why shouldn’t we register? There’s a sense of responsibility to the whole and a willingness to give up some privacy and some freedom to be apart of that social contract.”

For Captain America, who is against the Accords, the sense of accountability comes from his own sense of right and wrong. Professor Somdahl-Sands explains it as a Libertarian kind of argument; “I’m a good person, why should I have to submit to your authority over me when I’m doing nothing wrong?”

Following the movie, to this day there are still debates as to the correct side of this argument.

Those on the #TeamIronMan side:Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 9.05.25 PM.png

And those on the #TeamCap side:

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 9.04.38 PM

However, when applied to a real life scenario, the viewpoints of these teams may change. Take, for instance the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is explained best on the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs website:

“The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”

There are nine states with Nuclear weapons (this includes Israel due to the findings of the Federation of American Scientists). Of these nine, five have signed NPT, as NowThis explains:

The five states that have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty seem to be on Iron Man’s side, voluntarily limiting themselves for the sake of the international community. Professor Somdahl-Sands explains that, “The Avengers that signed on [to the Sokovia Accords] had to voluntarily choose to give up that power. And the United States and Russia had to voluntarily choose to go into these agreements to try and limit, not only who else could have them, but each other.”

On the other hand, the three states that have nuclear weapons, and have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, are on Team Cap. These states are not willing to limit themselves by international law because they want to be able to use their power as they see fit.

In the light of this comparison, does your perspective of #TeamCap and TeamIronMan debate? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, in the past few weeks there have been UN talks about Banning Nuclear weapons outright. More information on that can be found here.


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