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!”
By Dr. John Burroughs, Senior Analyst, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
NEW YORK, Nov 2 2020 (IPS) – The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will become binding law for participating states on January 22, 2021. Entry into force was triggered on October 24, the date marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, when Honduras become the 50th state to ratify the TPNW, reaching the threshold set by the treaty.
This is a signal accomplishment on the part of the 122 states, none nuclear-armed, that negotiated and adopted the TPNW in 2017, along with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which provided expert advice, and the International Campaign to Aboilish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a civil society initiative that won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
Together, the negotiating states, the ICRC, and ICAN took responsibility for creating a path toward the global elimination of nuclear weapons, essentially because the world’s most powerful states – all nuclear armed – are failing to do so.
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We are deeply alarmed by increasing risks that nuclear weapons will be used by intent, miscalculation or accident. The Singapore Summit is an encouraging sign that the dangerous US-North Korea confrontation will give way to a process leading to a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula. Nonetheless, the danger of nuclear war in this new moment may be greater than at the height of the Cold War; it is surely more unpredictable. Global nuclear disarmament – not just preventing the spread of nuclear weapons – is imperative.
This statement addresses the new US-Russian nuclear arms race; the North Korean situation; US actions in relation to the agreement and Security Council resolution regarding Iran’s nuclear program; and ongoing risks of accidents and miscalculations involving nuclear weapons. At the end, we recommend actions to be taken by IALANA affiliates and other civil society actors. Continue reading “Nuclear Crossroads: The Urgent Need for Action to Prevent Catastrophe”