TPNW’s First meeting of States Parties and beyond: Implementing Articles 6 and 7 – some comments, expectations and proposals

By Prof. Manfred Mohr (Professor of Public International Law, Academy of Sciences, Berlin, Board member of IALANA) and Prof. Daniel Rietiker (Adjunct Professor at Lausanne University and Suffolk University Law School, Boston MA, Co-president of IALANA)

I. On the commitments, their relevance and nature (1MSP’s declaration)

  1. Articles 6 and 7 contain positive obligations which are of specific relevance, as distinct from negative, or banning, stipulations contained in the Treaty. Implementing these obligations is a priority, and has immediate practical effects for victims and the natural environment affected by the (past) use or testing of nuclear weapons. Those commitments are of relevance even without the joining of Nuclear Weapon States to the Treaty – thus underlining the great, overall importance of the instrument. According to Article 6, the point of departure for victim assistance and environmental remediation lies with the jurisdiction of affected States Parties, which may not be Nuclear Weapon States.
  2. The commitments and respective parts of the Treaty echo the present general tendency of dealing with the subject of war and the environment. This is indicated, among other things, by the draft of the International Law Commission (ILC) on principles on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict (PERAC) (A/74/10), or the 2020 Guidelines of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict. The trend – which also establishes a connection to the global issue of climate change – is reflected through endeavors like the one of the Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and the Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS) outlining 14 principles for assisting victims of toxic remnants of war (Confronting Conflict Pollution, 2020).
  3. The special relevance and strength of art. 6 and 7 commitments result from the fact that they are linked to, or rooted in, existing international law. As Para. 8 of the Treaty’s preamble reaffirms: “…the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law”. The three main branches of law pertinent here are International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Human Rights, and Environmental Law – while Para. 10 of the preamble puts a focus on IHL as did the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion on the (Il)Legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. There is a multitude of legal arguments – many of them of a customary character – available to further victim assistance and environmental
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LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING AHEAD: the 25th anniversary of the 1996 ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons!

On 8 July 1996, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its Advisory Opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. It was the first authoritative international judicial opinion on nuclear weapons since their development in the 1940s. Moreover, it is generally considered one of the most important opinions that the ICJ has delivered.

In spite of the, sometimes, controversial conclusions drawn by the, lowest possible, majority of Judges, it functions as an important reference for civil society in its work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Leading international lawyers and activists, professors of international law and experts on arms control and disarmament law will discuss the importance of the Opinion and its relevance for the present day struggle towards nuclear disarmament.  The webinar will also address more recent developments, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the General Comment no. 36 on the right to life of the UN Human Rights Committee. Finally, it will address the question of what lessons can be drawn from the opinion regarding achievement of a world without nuclear weapons.

Continue reading “LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING AHEAD: the 25th anniversary of the 1996 ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons!”

IALANA Germany Signatory Appeal: Join the TPNW – Stop Germany’s Nuclear Armament


We hereby address you and all members of the Federal Government as well as the members of the German Bundestag with an urgent appeal: 

Sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons! 

Stop the deployment of the new US American B 61-12 atomic bombs at the German Air Force base in Büchel and the resulting new dangerous nuclear armament on German soil! 

Refrain from the planned acquisition of 45 US American F 18 fighter jets as nuclear weapon carriers for the Tactical Air Force Wing 33 of the Bundeswehr!

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Nuclear Weapons and International Law 2020: Virtual Conference

On November 12, 2020, the International Section of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) hosted an all-day virtual conference on nuclear weapons and international law. An exceptional group of experts in law, policy, diplomacy, and advocacy joined high-level officials from the United Nations and the United States to examine the application of international law to nuclear weapons and policy and advocacy strategies for control and elimination of the weapons and for ensuring their non-use. Speakers examined national nuclear weapons postures, international humanitarian law, human rights law, the UN system, the non-proliferation regime, and civil society advocacy, including religious approaches.

  • A report on the conference is here, including summaries of the sessions with video links.
  • The agenda with video links, speakers’ biographies, texts of remarks, and a bibliography are available here.
  • Video of the conference is also available here.

Speakers included Prof. Osamu Arakaki of International Christian University, Japan; Hans Kristensen of Federation of American Scientists; Prof. Scott Sagan of Stanford University; UN Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu; Ariana Smith and Dr. John Burroughs of Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy; Allison Pytlak of Reaching Critical Will/WILPF; American Bar Association President Patricia Lee Refo; Global Security Institute President Jonathan Granoff; Governor Jerry Brown, Executive Chairman, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Ambassador Christopher Ford, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation; Ambassador Thomas Graham, former Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament; Dr. Gloria Duffy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Prof. Charles Moxley of Fordham Law; Prof. David Koplow of Georgetown Law; Kathleen Lawand of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Laurie Ashton, counsel for the Marshall Islands in its nuclear disarmament cases; Jacqueline Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation; Rev. Drew Christiansen of Georgetown University; Tom Collina of Ploughshares Fund; and Audrey Kitigawa of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, Global Security Institute, and the International Law Section of the American Bar Association co-sponsored and co-organized the conference with the NYSBA International Section and its incoming Chair, Edward Lenci. Additional co-sponsors were Fordham Law School, Center on National Security; Georgetown University, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs; New York City Bar Association, Committees on International Law, Military and Veteran Affairs, the United Nations, and Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice; and New York County Lawyers Association, Committee on Foreign & International Law.

Human Rights Versus Nuclear Weapons: New Dimensions

Commentary and Analysis regarding UN Human Rights Committee General Comment no. 36; the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; Human Rights, Democracy, and Nuclear Weapons

Available as download below

We are witnessing a resurgence of interest in the application of international human rights law to one of the principal threats to the human future: nuclear weapons. A general comment issued by the UN Human Rights Committee in 2018 finds the threat or use of nuclear weapons to be incompatible with respect for the right to life. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted a year earlier is suffused with a humanitarian perspective, protects the rights of victims of testing and use of nuclear arms, and cites human rights law and the principles of humanity in its preamble.

Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP) twice brought together leading lawyers, law professors, and analysts to reflect on these developments, in December 2018 and in May 2019. This publication collects papers based on the speakers’ remarks.

  • Prof. Roger Clark of Rutgers Law, LCNP Executive Director Ariana Smith, LCNP President Emeritus Peter Weiss, and Dr. Daniel Rietiker of the University of Lausanne examine and reflect upon the significance and implications of the finding of the UN Human Rights Committee.
  • Bonnie Docherty of the Harvard Law International Human Rights Clinic addresses human rights aspects of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
  • Andrew Lichterman of Western States Legal Foundation explores how human rights discourse could be a terrain for making connections between disarmament movements and other movements for a more fair, democratic, and ecologically sustainable society.

This publication is highly recommended reading for anyone seeking to understand how a human rights approach can contribute to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

JALANA Statement on EIF of TPNW

Statement to welcome the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and pursue a “world without nuclear weapons and war”

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (“the Treaty” hereinafter) has come into effect today.
The Treaty has been a long-time wish of the Hibakusha (A-Bomb survivors). People around the world including the Hibakusha, who seek peace and nuclear disarmament, have continued to stress that “human beings cannot coexist with nuclear weapons,” and their call finally has led the Treaty to take effect.
The entry into force of the Treaty prohibits its States Parties from developing, testing, possessing, transferring, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, and it legally obligates them to abolish such weapons. And even in relation with non-State Parties, this entry into force advances illegalization of nuclear weapons under international customary law and their delegitimization.
The entry into force of the Treaty is a historical step toward a “world without nuclear weapons” while the world is going to arms buildup despite the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome the entry into force of the Treaty from the bottom of our hearts.

This Treaty recognizes that: the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again is their complete elimination; a legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons constitutes an important contribution towards the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons; and it is a global public good of the highest order, serving both national and collective security interests. In addition, the Treaty considers that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.
Although the Treaty does not directly or legally bind the nuclear weapons states which are not parties to it, it has a great influence on interpretation of the international humanitarian law concerning nuclear weapons use. Nuclear weapons states know this, and therefore they are hostile to the Treaty. The legal significance of the entry into force of the Treaty is never small in a way to realize a “world without nuclear weapons.”
In addition, Article 4 of the Treaty (Towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons) opens a way for nuclear weapons states to join the Treaty. Article 12 provides that “(e)ach State Party shall encourage States not party to this Treaty to sign, ratify, …the Treaty, with the goal of universal adherence of all States to the Treaty.” It seeks universalization of the Treaty.
However, the government of Japan, the only country to have suffered nuclear attacks in wartime, is not willing to sign or ratify the Treaty. The reason is that Japan bases its security on the extended nuclear deterrence relying on the US nuclear umbrella. Such an attitude of the Japanese government shows that they do not look straightly at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences resulting from nuclear
weapons use, which is by no means acceptable for the only country to have suffered atomic bombings in wartime. Nuclear deterrence cannot be a base for security, and the security of Japan should be pursued by joining the Treaty.
Japanese government should take the lead in signing and ratifying the Treaty.
We must not forget that the prohibition of nuclear weapons is not enough to abolish use of force using conventional weapons or realize a “world without nuclear weapons and war.” We need to universalize worldwide a thorough norm of non-military pacifism, in other words, renunciation of war, non-possession of armed forces, and denial of the right of belligerency provided in Article 9 of the Japanese constitution.
We strongly demand that states possessing or depending on nuclear weapons including Japan sign and ratify the Treaty at an early date.
Finally, we pledge to continue our efforts to realize a “world without nuclear weapons and war” at the earliest possible date through universalizing worldwide the norm of non-military pacifism of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world including the Hibakusha.
January 22, 2021
Kenichi Okubo, President,
Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms

Open letter by IALANA Italy to President Giuseppe Conte

Translated with (free version)
View the original in Italian

Dear President Prof. Giuseppe Conte

Next January 22, 2020 – 75 years after Hiroshima – the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPAN) will enter into force.

In 2017 with the favorable vote at the UN of 121 States and ratification by 51 States, finally the majority of States decided to implement the international obligation, ex art.6 of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of 1968 “to pursue in good faith and conclude negotiations leading to global nuclear disarmament and under strict and effective international control” (see also: The device letter F of the Advisory opinion of 8.7.1996 International Court of Justice).

Nuclear states and their allies including Italy have unlawfully refused to participate in negotiations and/or adhere to this new treaty prohibiting the threat and use, possession, production and sale of nuclear weapons and have, on December 4, 2019, declared from London: “NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.” In October 2020, Italian troops participated in the steadfast noon 2020 exercise to perfect the evidence of a nuclear war against Russia by virtually destroying urban and industrial centers in the territorial depth of Central Asia. Unfortunately, there is no lack of other signs from the nuclear states and their allies of wanting to use these weapons, which draw their supreme advantage only from the fact of their unusability, that is, from the abnormality of their destructive power.

In this context, the writers believe it appropriate to point out that the joint planning of the use of nuclear weapons in Italy by NATO, through the decision of the American president, in addition to being contrary to Articles 10 and 11 of our Constitution and the Treaty of Non-Proliferation, exposes the Italian population to severe dangers especially in situations of political and social instability such as those we have witnessed in recent days.

Faced with the growing threat of these weapons of mass destruction being used, it seems right that Italy should fulfill its international obligation to adhere to the new TPAN and/or to renounce their use and to free Italian territory from these weapons that violate the humanitarian norms of the ius in bello. Your government and you personally are therefore called to the historic task of contributing to the final elimination of a danger to the very existence of the human race and every other form of life on our planet and urgently authorize the ratification in Italy of the new TPAN (See draft motion of May 29, 2019 by Senator Loredana De Petris).

Sincerely, lawyer Dr.Joachim Lau

Opposition to the Federal Government’s assertion that the nuclear sharing practiced by Germany within the framework of NATO does not violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty

A text by Bernd Hahnfeld, Board Member IALANA Germany

The Bundeswehr Fighter-Bomber Wing 33 is stationed in Büchel. It has the task, within the framework of NATO’s nuclear cooperation, of practicing with its Tornado aircraft the transport and dropping of the atomic bombs stationed there. In the event of war, Fighter-Bomber Wing 33 would deliver nuclear bombs to their targets following their release by the US President and operational authorization through the U.S. chain of command. In the event of war, the German soldiers thus acquire the “power of disposal” over nuclear weapons under the auspices of NATO. This is so despite the fact that the release of the weapons is only effective for dropping them on targets chosen by the U.S. There are no indications that peacetime nuclear exercises have involved actual nuclear weapons rather than practice bombs.

As a party to the NPT, the Federal Republic of Germany as a non-nuclear weapons state is obliged under Art. 2 NPT not to “accept nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or the power of disposal thereof from anyone, directly or indirectly”.

Read the full text here or in the pdf below.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrates its 30th anniversary: An instrument that remains relevant, including to asses the right to health after the 2011 Fukushima disaster

Dr.iur. Daniel Rietiker[1]


By adoption of UNGA Resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989, the Convention on the rights of the child (CRC) was established. It therefore celebrates its 30th anniversary these days.[2] Today, nearly all Governments – to the exclusion of the USA – have pledged to respect, protect and promote those rights.[3] This makes the CRC one of the most – if not the most – universally accepted human rights treaty in history.[4]

Continue reading “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrates its 30th anniversary: An instrument that remains relevant, including to asses the right to health after the 2011 Fukushima disaster”

Kriegsgeschäfte-Initiative: Ein JA im Interesse der Nachhaltigkeit und des Finanzplatzes Schweiz

Dr. iur. Daniel Rietiker; Lehrbeauftragter im Völkerrecht Universität Lausanne, Vorsitzender des Vereins Schweizer Anwälte für Nukleare Abrüstung (SAFNA)

Am 29. November 2020 entscheidet die Schweizer Stimmbevölkerung über die von der GsoA und den Jungen Grünen eingereichte Initiative “Für ein Verbot der Finanzierung von Kriegsmaterialproduzenten” (Kriegsgeschäfte-Initiative). Sie will, dass die Schweizer Nationalbank, die AHV und die Pensionskassen ihr Geld so anlegen, dass internationale Waffenproduzenten nicht davon profitieren. Der Autor vertritt die Meinung, dass die Initiative rechtlich und politisch unproblematisch ist und den hiesigen Grundwerten entspricht. Deshalb sollte sie angenommen werden.

Was will die Initiative?

Kriege sind nicht nur mit unfassbarem menschlichen Leid verbunden, sondern auch sehr kostspielig und können nur geführt werden, wenn genügend Geld für sie vorhanden ist. Auch Kriegsmaterialproduzenten sind auf finanzielle Mittel von Dritten angewiesen. Diese erhalten sie unter anderem über ihre Präsenz auf dem internationalen Finanzmarkt. Investitionen in internationale Finanzprodukte sind attraktive Anlagemöglichkeiten, auch für Schweizer Banken, Vorsorgeinstitute und Stiftungen. Auch die Schweizer Nationalbank (SNB) legt ihr Vermögen grenzüberschreitend an. Die Pensionskassen investieren jährlich mehrere Milliarden Franken in Rüstungskonzerne und die SNB investierte 2019 allein im ersten Halbjahr fast 1,5 Mia Dollar in US-amerikanische Firmen, die Kriegsmaterial herstellen, inklusive geächtetes und humanitär kaum zu verantwortendes (wie Landminen, Streumunition oder Massenvernichtungswaffen).

Als Beispiel kann das US-amerikanische Unternehmen Boeing angeführt werden, das meist als Mischkonzern bezeichnet wird und dem durchschnittlichen Konsumenten höchstens wegen der Flugzeugsparte des Konzerns etwas sagt, wobei der Rüstungszweig fast 30% des Gesamtumfangs ausmacht. Ende 2019 hatte die SNB mehr als 549 Mio USD in Boeing angelegt, die UBS sogar 2,78 Mia USD. Boeing produziert hauptsächlich Kampfflugzeuge, ist aber auch im Atomwaffengeschäft tätig.

Angesichts der globalen Herausforderungen wie Klimawandel, Pandemien oder massive Flüchtlingsströme ist weltweite Aufrüstung nicht der richtige Weg. Die Schweiz ist zwar als neutrales Land nicht in kriegerische Auseinandersetzungen involviert, aber zur Bewaffnung der Welt trägt sie dennoch bei. Die Kriegsgeschäfte-Initiative will genau diesen Missstand beheben indem kein Schweizer Geld mehr in die Rüstungsindustrie fliessen soll. Dabei soll insbesondere der Besitz von Aktien von Kriegsmaterialproduzenten sowie von Anteilen an Fonds, die solche Aktien enthalten, verboten werden.

Warum das aktuelle System nicht funktioniert?

Natürlich können die genannten Institute auch heute schon proaktiv gewisse Firmen oder gesamte Sektoren aus ihrem Anlageportfolio ausschliessen, was aber bloss in Einzelfällen passiert. Und auch anwendbaren rechtlichen Regeln greifen nicht.

Das im Jahr 2013 revidierte Kriegsmaterialgesetz (KMG) verbietet die Finanzierung von verbotenem Kriegsmaterial. Unter das Verbot fallen Atom-, biologische und chemische Waffen. Das Gesetz verbietet direkte sowie indirekte Finanzierung. Unter die direkte Finanzierung fallen u.a. die unmittelbare Gewährung von Krediten, Darlehen und Schenkungen. Indirekte Finanzierung, die in der Praxis eine weit grössere Rolle spielt, ist hingegen nur verboten, wenn damit das Verbot der direkten Finanzierung umgangen werden soll. Genau hier will die Initiative Abhilfe schaffen und diese Art von Finanzierung generell verbieten. Unter den Begriff “indirekte Finanzierung” fallen die Beteiligung an Gesellschaften, die verbotenes Kriegsmaterial entwickeln, herstellen oder erwerben, sowie der Erwerb von Obligationen und anderen Anlageprodukten, die durch solche Gesellschaften ausgegeben werden.

In der Praxis stellt sich das KMG als stumpfe Waffe heraus.Ein ziemlich offensichtliches Problem ergibt sich zunächst durch das Prinzip der self-regulation. In der Tat obliegt die Umsetzung und Überwachung des Finanzierungsverbots im KMG weitgehend den entsprechenden Normadressaten. Das reicht kaum für eine effektive Umsetzung des Finanzierungsverbots. Zweitens bleiben die strafrechtlichen Bestimmungen des KMG oft weitgehend ineffektiv. Wenn jemand die Möglichkeit einer Widerhandlung gegen das Finanzierungsverbot lediglich in Kauf nimmt, im Sinne eines Eventualvorsatzes, kommt er nämlich straffrei davon. Drittens ist in der Praxis die Absicht der Umgehung des Verbots sehr schwierig zu beweisen.

Fadenscheinige Argumente gegen die Initiative

Eines der Hauptargumente der Gegner der Initiative, inclusive Bundesrat, sind die angeblich negativen Auswirkungen auf die Rüstungsindustrie der Schweiz, inklusive dem Verlust von Arbeitsplätzen in den Rüstungsbetrieben und ihren Zulieferern. Dem lässt sich entgegnen, dass die hiesige Rüstungsindustrie nur sekundär betroffen wäre und dass das Finanzierungsverbot in erster Linie die SNB, Stiftungen und Vorsorgeeinrichtungen trifft. Kaum ein Schweizer Rüstungsunternehmen ist gross genug, in einem geläufigen internationalen Fond, in den die SNB oder Pensionskassen investieren, abgebildet zu sein.

Es wird ferner behauptet, dass der Ausschluss von Rüstungsproduzenten aus Anlageportfolien die Rentensicherheit gefährden oder die Gewinne schmälern würde. Die rasanten Entwicklungen im Bereich der Steuerung von Finanzflüssen in nachhaltige Aktivitäten (sustainable finance) beweisen aber das Gegenteil: nachhaltiges Investieren ist gewinnbringend und die Zukunft des Finanzsektors.

Stichhaltige Argumente für die Initiative

Eine Annahme der Initiative hätte zahlreiche positive Auswirkungen.

1.  Weniger Waffen und Gewalt: Das Geschäft mit den Waffen floriert. Seit dem Ende des Kalten Krieges ist eine stetige Zunahme von Waffen und eine erschreckende Innovation von Waffentechnologie feststellbar. Je mehr Waffen im Umlauf sind, desto gefährlicher können schon kleine Konflikte und Reibereien werden. Ferner wird das Risiko der Verbreitung von Massenvernichtungswaffen, incl. Atomwaffen, akzentuiert.

2.  Bekämpfung der Flüchtlingsströme: Millionen Menschen werden weltweit durch Kriege und Konflikte aus ihrer Heimat vertrieben. Werden potentiellen Kriegen und Konflikten durch das Versieben von Waffenlieferungen der Boden entzogen, trägt das zur Bekämpfung der Fluchtursachen bei.

3. Friedensförderung: Das Engagement der Schweiz in der Friedensförderung, Menschenrechtspolitik und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit ist zentral für die Verhinderung von bewaffneten Konflikten. Die Schweiz kann stolz sein auf ihre humanitäre Tradition und ihre Neutralität, sowie auf ihre Rolle als Mediator zwischen Konfliktsparteien. Wenn nun aber Milliarden von Schweizer Franken in die Kassen der Kriegsmaterialproduzenten fliessen, deren Waffen Kriege und Blutvergiessen erst ermöglichen, erscheint das weder kohärent noch glaubwürdig.

4. Bekämpfung des Klimawandels: Der Klimawandel stellt ohne Frage eine der grössten Bedrohungen der Menschheit dar. Die Rüstungsindustrie gehört zu den schmutzigsten Sektoren der Wirtschaft überhaupt und verpestet die Umwelt sowohl durch die Produktion wie auch den Einsatz von Kriegsmaterial gleich doppelt. Kriege bedeuten grundsätzlich die direkte Zerstörung der Umwelt durch die Verschmutzung von Boden und der Verseuchung von Trinkwasser.

5. Nachhaltigkeit des Finanzplatz Schweiz:  Die Bedeutung von Nachhaltigkeit ist ein Thema, das Staaten und Experten auf der ganzen Welt beschäftigt. Der Markt an nachhaltigen Investitionen ist im Jahr 2019 um 62% gestiegen. Ein nachhaltiger Finanzplatz ist das beste Aushängeschild, das sich die Schweiz wünschen kann.


Die Initiative drückt ganz klar die Werte und Bedürfnisse der Schweiz aus. Aus all diesen Gründen ist es wichtig, am 29. November der Kriegsgeschäftsinitiative zuzustimmen.