IALANA Statement Regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on the Occasion of its Opening for Signature on 20 September 2017

IALANA – the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms – welcomes the adoption on 7 July 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The nuclear weapons ban treaty is a powerful and eloquent statement, grounded in an understanding of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear explosions, of the political, moral, and legal standards enjoining non-use and elimination of nuclear arms and of the need to redress the damage wrought by the nuclear age to people and the environment. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that trends in the wider world are negative, as threats of use of nuclear weapons are made in the Korean context and elsewhere, and as all nine nuclear-armed states proceed with long-term programs for the maintenance and modernization of their nuclear arsenals. It is imperative that the nuclear-armed states and their allies be persuaded of both the humanitarian values and the disarmament logic underlying the treaty.

IALANA is particularly pleased that the treaty – as we strongly advocated – robustly recognizes and reinforces existing treaty- and custom-based international law requiring the non-use and elimination of nuclear weapons. That law applies to states whether or not they join the treaty. That includes the nuclear-armed states, which did not participate in the negotiations, as well as states in nuclear alliances, most of which likewise did not participate.

Considerations relevant to all states are set out in the treaty’s preamble, whose legal elements:

  • Reaffirm the need for all states at all times to comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law;
  • Identify key principles and rules of international humanitarian law, including the rule of distinction between civilians and combatants and civilian objects and military objectives; the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks; the rule of proportionality; the rule of precaution; the prohibition of infliction of unnecessary suffering; and the rules for the protection of the environment;
  • Consider that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, in particular the principles and rules of international humanitarian law;
  • Recall the UN Charter prohibition of the threat or use of force;
  • Reaffirm the obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. That obligation was set forth in a unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion, based on Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and UN practice going back to the very first General Assembly resolution, in 1946.

The treaty’s core prohibitions, set out in Article I, bar states parties from developing, testing, producing, and possessing nuclear weapons, and from using and threatening to use such weapons. At least the latter prohibitions, of using and threatening to use nuclear weapons, apply to all states whether or not they are party to the treaty, as a matter of universal law rooted in international humanitarian law, the UN Charter, and principles of humanity and dictates of public conscience.

We emphasize that the use and threatened use of nuclear weapons is presently incompatible with international humanitarian law regulating the conduct of warfare. Above all, due to their uncontrollable blast, heat, fire, and long-lasting radiation effects, nuclear weapons cannot meet the requirement of distinguishing between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives. Indeed, the catastrophic consequences of use of nuclear weapons vastly exceed the ordinary boundaries of armed conflict and adversely impact populations in third-party states, the natural environment necessary to sustain human life, and future generations. The use and threatened use of nuclear weapons accordingly also violates international human rights law, most centrally the right to life. It is therefore appropriate that the preamble to the nuclear weapons ban treaty invokes international human rights law as well as international humanitarian law.

In view of the centrality of threat to now decades-old reliance on nuclear weapons in military and security postures, IALANA also emphasizes the importance of the explicit inclusion of the prohibition of threatened use in the treaty. It will be an important tool in the ongoing campaign to delegitimize ‘nuclear deterrence’ as contrary to international law as well as common sense in view of the immense risks involved. Delegitimization of nuclear deterrence is essential to success in achieving the global abolition of nuclear arms.

The treaty’s preamble refers to the “unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons.” IALANA welcomes the human-rights based obligation on all states parties in a position to do so to assist affected states parties with victim assistance and environmental remediation. There is still much to do to help victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons, and clean-up or other appropriate management of contaminated areas remains a daunting task. IALANA urges all states to take seriously the obligation of assistance to affected states, with special emphasis on the responsibility of states having used or tested nuclear weapons.

IALANA hopes that the several pathways created by the treaty for nuclear-armed states to verifiably and irreversibly dismantle their arsenals will serve as a framework for global nuclear disarmament. If the treaty is not itself used as such a framework, at least it points the way toward a convention – a comprehensive agreement on the permanent global elimination of nuclear arms.

Finally, the nuclear weapons ban treaty is the product of a participatory, conscience-driven and non-discriminatory movement of states taking responsibility for the future of humanity working together with civil society. It is a harbinger of the democratization of disarmament and of the United Nations, and of a paradigm shift toward human security, placing the individual at the centre rather than considerations guided only by states’ interests.

We accordingly call on all states to sign the treaty and then soon to ratify it in order to bring it into legal force at the earliest possible date. We urge states in nuclear alliances to modify their national policies appropriately so that they can sign the treaty and act consistently with its object and purpose as required of signatories by international law, and to ratify the treaty when they are in a position fully to comply with it. We call on nuclear-armed states to, now, adopt policies and to, now, effectively engage in disarmament negotiations, which are required by international law, so that they too are able to join the treaty or to engage in a parallel process for ending the spectre of use of nuclear arms and achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. In this regard, the treaty provides confirmatory evidence of the utmost importance of existing international law in requiring that nuclear weapons be banned from the face of the earth; it is a powerful call to the nuclear-armed states, and to the world, to effectively honor the obligations of nuclear disarmament.

Find the statement as pdf here:

IALANA Statement_20170919

Basel Declaration on human rights and trans-generational crimes resulting from nuclear weapons and nuclear energy

The participants in the international conference Human Rights, Future Generations and Crimes in the Nuclear Age, held in Basel from September 14-17, 2017, affirm that the risks and impacts of nuclear weapons, depleted uranium weapons and nuclear energy, which are both transnational and trans-generational, constitute a violation of human rights, a transgression of international humanitarian and environmental law, and a crime against future generations. Continue reading “Basel Declaration on human rights and trans-generational crimes resulting from nuclear weapons and nuclear energy”

Appeal for a diplomatic solution in North East Asia

The Abolition 2000 members and affiliated networks listed below, representing peace and disarmament organisations from around the world, call on the United States and North Korea to step back from the brink of war in North East Asia, and instead adopt a diplomatic approach to prevent war .
We call for the immediate commencement of negotiations to prevent a military conflict from erupting, and to resolve the underlying conflicts. Such negotiations should take place both bilaterally and through a renewed Six-Party  framework involving China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

The escalating tensions and threat of military conflict over North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities

makes a diplomatic solution of vital importance and the highest priority. The increasing risk of war – and possibly even the use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation, accident, or intent – is frightening.

More than three million citizens of Korea, China, USA and other countries lost their lives in the Korean War from 1950-1953. Should a war erupt again, the loss of lives could be considerably worse, especially if nuclear weapons are used. Indeed, a nuclear conflict erupting in Korea could engulf the entire world in a nuclear  catastrophe that would end civilization as we know it.

In supporting diplomacy rather than war, we:

  1. Oppose any pre-emptive use of force by any of the parties, which would be counter-productive and likely lead to nuclear war;
  2. Call on all parties to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and provocative military exercises;
  3. Encourage China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States to consider the phased and comprehensive approach for a North-East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone with a 3+3 arrangement*, which already has cross-party support in Japan and South Korea and interest from the North Korean government;
  4. Encourage China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States to also consider options and modalities for turning the 1953 Armistice Agreement into a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War;
  5. Welcome the call of the UN Secretary-General for a resumption of Six-Party talks and his offer to assist in negotiations;
  6. Welcome also the offer of the European Union to assist in diplomatic negotiations, as they did successfully in the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program;
  7. Call on the United Nations Security Council to prioritise a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Read the appeal with signatories here

 

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Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen,

begleitet von einem Stillschweigen in den deutschen Medien und deshalb nahezu unbemerkt von der deutschen Öffentlichkeit findet derzeit bei den Vereinten Nationen in New York eine von 134 Staaten geführte Konferenz statt, in der ein Atomwaffenverbotsvertrag mit dem Ziel der Abschaffung aller Atomwaffen verhandelt wird. Seit der Verabschiedung des Nichtverbrei-tungsvertrags im Jahr 1968 ist dies die wichtigste Staateninitiative zur nuklearen Abrüstung. Nach einer ersten Verhandlungsrunde im März steht in der Zeit vom 15. Juni bis 7. Juli 2017 die zweite Konferenzrunde an. Das Verhandlungsergebnis der ersten Runde – ein überarbeiteter Vertragsentwurf als Grundlage der Fortsetzung der Beratung in der zweiten Verhandlungsrunde – liegt inzwischen vor. In dem Diskussionsprozess konnte IALANA International durch unser Verbindungsbüro bei den Vereinten Nationen in New York mit eigenen Formulierungsbeiträgen eine erfreuliche und anerkannte Rolle spielen. Allerdings finden die Verhandlungen ohne Beteiligung Deutschlands statt. Die NATO – Staaten mit Ausnahme der Niederlande boykottieren die Verhandlungen. Dabei hatten Christdemokraten und Sozialdemokraten in einer einmütigen Entschließung fast aller politischen Kräfte am 27. Oktober 2016 im Europaparlament alle Mitgliedstaaten der EU dazu aufgerufen, die von der Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen beschlossene Konferenz zu unterstützen und sich konstruktiv daran zu beteiligen (Nukleare Sicherheit und Nichtverbreitung von Kernwaffen – Entschließung des Europäischen Parlaments vom 27. Oktober 2016 zur nuklearen Sicherheit und Nichtverbreitung von Kernwaffen 2016/2936(RSP)). Die Bundesregierung folgt aber bislang offenbar einer Demarche der Regierung der USA an alle Mitglieder der NATO, in der diese dringend dazu aufgerufen werden, der Konferenz fern zu bleiben. IALANA Deutschland hat dies in der Neuauflage der Erklärung „Atomzeitalter beenden“ ausführlich dokumentiert. Wir wenden uns nun an Sie mit der Bitte, den beigefügten Juristenaufruf zur Unterstützung des Verhandlungsprozesses zu unterzeichnen . Wir möchten damit zugleich öffentlich zum Ausdruck bringen, dass die Haltung der Bundesregierung Widerspruch in der deutschen Zivilgesellschaft findet und dringend der Korrektur bedarf. Deutschland darf in diesen Verhandlungen nicht im Abseits stehen. Deutschland muss vielmehr zu den ersten Signatarstaaten gehören des Atomwaffenverbotsvertrags!

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Otto Jäckel

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