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.

Program 8 July 2021:

1st Session
Looking Back: General Discussion of the Advisory Opinion

5 pm CEST
Opening and Introductory Remarks
Phon van den Biesen, Attorney at Law in Amsterdam, Co-President IALANA

5.10
UK Nuclear Policy and the Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion
Christine Chinkin, Emeritus Professor of International Law, London School of Economics (LSE)

5.25
Q and A

5.35
The Legal Effect of Advisory Opinions
Paolo Palchetti, Professor of International Law, Université de Paris (Sorbonne 1)

5.50
Q and A

6.00
General Observations
Peter Weiss, President Emeritus IALANA

6.10
The World Court Project
Alyn Ware, Former Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy; Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

6.20
Video Message from Hiroshima
Takeya Sasaki, Co-president IALANA

6.30
BREAK

2nd Session
Looking Ahead: Current and Future Trends

6.45 CEST
Opening and Introductory Remarks
John Burroughs, Senior Analyst, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, and Vice President IALANA

6.55
Nuclear Weapons and Human Rights
Daniel Rietiker, International Law Lecturer, Lausanne University, Co-President IALANA

7.10
Observations re Previous Presentation
Manfred Mohr, Professor of International Law, Board Member IALANA Germany

7.15
Q and A

7.25
Video Message from JALANA
Kenichi Okubo, President JALANA

7.35
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Amela Skiljan, Vice-chair of IALANA Germany, PhD candidate

7.45
Q and A

7.55
Closing Remarks
Phon van den Biesen

8.00 CEST
End of Webinar

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

By LCNP
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.

Journal of International Law and Comity

Ladies and Gentlemen,

please find below a link to a new international law journal by Weeramantry Centre for Peace, Justice and International Law of which Vol. I was dedicated to the role of India and its civil society in the fight for a world free of nuclear weapons. For the time being, the journal is available online only. The introduction has been written by Daniel Rietiker, who is a member of the advisory board of the journal, and the articles have been selected within a students’ competition among many submissions received.

The main editors of the new journal belong to a newly created Weeramantry Centre in New Delhi.

Please feel free to circulate and spread these informations in your circles.

Best wishes,

Daniel Rietiker

View Volume 1

Michael Adams Lecture and Conversation at the United Nations by Peter Weiss

On November 21, LCNP and IALANA President Emeritus Peter Weiss delivered the J. Michael Adams Lecture and Conversation at the United Nations. He covered a range of topics, from decartelization to decolonization to human rights to the illegality of nuclear weapons, and more. In the Q&A, in response to a question from LCNP Board member Jonathan Granoff, he recalled that the 1981 founding of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy was inspired by a paper on international law and nuclear weapons whose lead author was Professor Richard Falk, a member of the LCNP Board. 

A webcast of the event is linked at www.lcnp.org and is at:

http://webtv.un.org/watch/dgc-united-nations-academic-impact-j.-michael-adams-lecture-and-conversation/6106863250001/

JALANA Statement on the 2nd US-DPRK Summit

April 1, 2019

Takeya Sassaki,

President, Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (JALANA)

Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (JALANA) hereby expresses its views on the Hanoi Summit between Donald Trump, the president of the United States, and Kim Jong Un, the chairman of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held on February 27 and 28 as follows:

Continue reading “JALANA Statement on the 2nd US-DPRK Summit”

UNHRC about Nuclear Weapons in General Comment No. 36

UNHRC about Nuclear Weapons: The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy analyses the Comment about Nuclear Weapons by the Human Rights Committee in 2018. The general comment No. 36 considers the threat and use of nuclear weapons incompatible with the right to life.

The statement in the General Comment by the UNHRC about nuclear weapons was found in paragraph 66, stating “the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, which are indiscriminate in effect and are of a nature to cause destruction of human life on a catastrophic scale is incompatible with respect for the right to life and may amount to a crime under international law. States parties must take all necessary measures to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including measures to prevent their acquisition by non-state actors, to refrain from developing, producing, testing, acquiring, stockpiling, selling, transferring and using them, to destroy existing stockpiles, and to take adequate measures of protection against accidental use, all in accordance with their international obligations. They must also respect their international obligations to pursue in good faith negotiations in order to achieve the aim of nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control. And to afford adequate reparation to victims whose right to life has been or is being adversely affected by the testing or use of weapons of mass destruction, in accordance with principles of international responsibility.”

View the video of the discussion with the title “The Right to Life versus Nuclear Weapons: A Bold Intervention by the UN Human Rights Committee”

Chaired by Dr. John Burroughs (Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy), speakers were Dr. Roger S. Clark (Rutgers Law), Ariana Smith (CUNY School of Law), and Peter Weiss (Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights).

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Threat and use of nuclear weapons contrary to right to life, says UN Human Rights Committee

On 30 October 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), which is in charge of the implementation of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), has adopted its General Comment (GC) no. 36 relating to the right to life (Article 6 ICCPR). It is in many respects a remarkable document and a new example for bridge-building between nuclear arms control and human rights. In para. 66, the HRC considers the threat and use of WMD, in particular nuclear weapons, incompatible with the right to life and reiterates the duties of the States Parties in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Continute reading Daniel Rietiker’s text:

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Japanese Translation by JALANA:
http://www.hankaku-j.org/data/07/181107.html

Read more about the HRC statement here

Wind of Change in Nuclear Disarmament: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a New Example of Humanitarian, Victim – centered Arms Control

The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in New York, on July 7, 2017, shifted the paradigm in nuclear disarmament after more than twenty years of stagnation in the field. After biological and chemical weapons bans in 1972 and 1993, respectively, the remaining weapons of mass destruction will be banned once the TPNW enters into force. Even though there is considerable disagreement on the practical impact of a treaty for nuclear disarmament and international security, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the coalition that was instrumental in the negotiations and adoption of the treaty, demonstrates the treaty’s significance and immediate impact.

READ the full paper by Daniel Rietiker