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/

Presentation at United Nations First Committee

On October 17, Jackie Cabasso spoke to the United Nations First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) in New York, as part of a segment dedicated to statements by civil society organizations.

The statement, entitled Creating the Conditions for International Peace and Human Security”, was presented on behalf of Western States Legal Foundation and Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, members of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.

Read the full statement

Nuclear Crossroads: The Urgent Need for Action to Prevent Catastrophe

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”

IALANA Statement at UN: Nuclear Arms Racing is Antithetical to the NPT

Civil Society Presentation to NPT PrepCom, Geneva
International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
25 April 2018
Delivered by Amela Skiljan, Board member, German IALANA

Dear colleagues:

On 22 August 2017, a true hero of the nuclear age, Tony de Brum, passed away. He did many important things in his life. One of them was that as Foreign Minister, he spearheaded the Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament cases in the International Court of Justice. When the cases were filed, in April 2014, he said: “Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of nuclear weapons and we vow to fight so that no one else on Earth will ever again experience these atrocities.” Regrettably, by the narrowest of margins the Court refused to adjudicate the cases on their merits. But de Brum’s call to action should serve as an inspiration on other fronts, not least this NPT review process.

We are now faced with a contradictory environment. A majority of the world’s states last year adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Going entirely in the other direction, the two largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, appear poised to resume nuclear arms racing reminiscent of the darkest days of the Cold War.

The US Nuclear Posture Review released on February 2 proposes two new capabilities, both aimed at Russia, a low-yield warhead deployed on submarine-launched missiles, and a sea-based, nuclear-armed cruise missile. It also endorses replacement of an air-launched cruise missile with a stealthier, more capable version. And the review emphasizes the role of nuclear weapons in responding to “non-nuclear strategic attacks,” notably cyberattacks.

In a March 1 address, President Vladimir Putin described an array of new nuclear weapons delivery systems, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile, an underwater drone carrying “massive nuclear ordinance”, and a multiple warhead ballistic missile with virtually unlimited range capable of flying over the South as well as the North Pole.

All of this stands in blatant disregard of the NPT. The NPT preamble declares the “intention to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race”. And of course, Article VI requires the pursuit of negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date.

The concept animating Article VI was that quantitative build-up and qualitative improvement of nuclear arsenals was to be ended prior to negotiations on their elimination. By the mid-1990s, the agenda had been partly achieved. Nuclear arsenals were reducing in size, and nuclear explosive testing was halted. Indeed, in a 1995 declaration, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States welcomed “the fact that the nuclear arms race has ceased.”[*]

But the gains of the 1990s are now being reversed. Hence the need to go back to the basics. Qualitative – and possibly quantitative – nuclear arms racing should now be out of the question. The “early date” has long since passed! Yet there are no negotiations on the subject taking place or in sight, clearly a breach of Article VI, which requires such negotiations to be pursued and concluded. And the weapons development described by Putin and the Nuclear Posture Review is a breach of the legal requirement of good faith in relation to the objectives of Article VI.

As we approach its fiftieth anniversary, the NPT risks losing its appeal as a tool for disarmament, and its viability as a bulwark against proliferation is even in question. The implementation of well-known steps is vital. They include a pledge not to initiate nuclear warfare; hold-out states’ ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to bring it into legal force; and ending nuclear sharing, the NPT-violative arrangement for five states to host and potentially use US nuclear bombs.

Above all, nuclear-armed states must abandon the myth that ‘nuclear deterrence’ keeps us safe. Now more than ever, it is imperative to comply with the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice: “There exists an 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.”

 

[*] NPT/Conf.1995/20, 19 April 1995, Annex.

 

Download the Statement

 

Civil society statements to the UN conference on negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons

Please find here two statements by IALANA representatives:

Jacqueline Cabasso
Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation, Oakland, California
U.S. Affiliate, International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms
Delivered 16 July 2017

Read the full statement here

Peter Weiss
President Emeritus
International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Cluster Two: Obligations
Delivered 19 June 2017
Read the full statement here

Lawyers’ letter released at United Nations nuclear ban negotiations New York, June 23

Yesterday at the United Nations, the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) released a Lawyers’ letter on the abolition of nuclear weapons in conjunction with UN negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

The letter has been endorsed by over 400 lawyers, law professors, attorneys, judges, law students and other legal professionals, including the Rt Hon Geoffrey Palmer (former Prime Minster of New Zealand and Ad Hoc Judge of the International Court of Justice), Prof Herta Däubler-Gmelin (Former Minister of Justice of Germany), Richard Falk (Professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and Senior Vice President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation), Phon van den Biesen (Counsel before the International Court of Justice in Bosnia’s Genocide case and The Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Disarmament Cases), Peter Weiss (Constitutional law expert and pioneer of the universal jurisdiction principle for international crimes), Prof Emilie Gaillard (French legal expert in rights of future generations) and the Hon Matt Robson (former New Zealand Minister of Courts and Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control).

The letter welcomes the UN negotiations, highlights the current illegality of the threat and use of nuclear weapons under general international law, laments the fact that nuclear-armed States are failing to recognise that illegality, and supports its codification in a multilateral prohibition agreement.

The nuclear-armed states and their closest allies have refused to participate in the negotiations and will almost certainly not sign the treaty. However, the letter notes that despite this, ‘the nuclear ban treaty effort constitutes an important affirmation of the norms against nuclear weapons‘. Further, adoption and implementation of the treaty “will be a major step towards negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the achievement and permanent maintenance of a world free of nuclear arms.”

The lawyers’ letter reinforces key points being made by IALANA to the UN negotiations, including through interventions and working papers (See A/CONF.229/2017/NGO/WP.12 Selected Elements of a Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, Submitted by International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms; A/CONF.229/2017/NGO/WP.13 Withdrawal Clauses in Arms Control Treaties: Some Reflections about a Future Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, Submitted by International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA); A/CONF.229/2017/NGO/WP.37 Prohibitions and the Preamble: Further Comments. Submitted by International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and A/CONF.229/2017/NGO/WP.38 Nuclear-Armed States, Positive Obligations, Institutional Issues, and Final Clauses: Further Comments. Submitted by International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms).

John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (UN office of IALANA), noted at the launch of the letter that whether to include a prohibition of the threat of use of nuclear weapons is a contested issue in the negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty.  He stated that:

‘…while existing law does apply to threats in all circumstances – aggression, self-defense, particular operations and situations during an armed conflict – its application is complicated and not spelled out comprehensively in the UN Charter and in IHL treaties. Inclusion of a prohibition of threat of nuclear weapons in the convention would therefore provide desirable clarity, confirming the illegality of threat under existing law, which should also be declared in the preamble.’

Mr Burroughs also noted that it is the threat of use of nuclear weapons that is central to their possession, not the use of nuclear weapons which has not happened in wartime since 1945. As such ‘The inclusion of an explicit prohibition of threat of use of nuclear weapons, and, if deemed appropriate, of security doctrines providing for use of nuclear weapons, accordingly would advance the achievement of complete nuclear disarmament.’

Commander Robert Green (Royal Navy, ret.) supported Mr Burroughs on the need to include a prohibition on threat of use of nuclear weapons in the treaty.

“Nuclear deterrence, far from providing security, promotes insecurity through stimulating hostility, mistrust, nuclear arms racing and proliferation. What is more, because of these realities and its insoluble credibility problem, it is highly vulnerable to failure. As for extended nuclear deterrence, far from providing a so-called ‘nuclear umbrella’ to non-nuclear US allied states, it acts as a ‘lightning rod’ attracting insecurity to them, because any use of nuclear weapons by the US on their behalf would inevitably escalate to all-out nuclear war… nuclear deterrence is a vast protection racket by a US-led organised crime syndicate, who use it as a counterfeit currency of power, and whose principal beneficiary is the military-industrial complex.”

“This is why the ban treaty must prohibit threat of use, and include language explaining what that means…. The fact that the currently deployed UK Trident submarine is described as on ‘deterrent patrol’, despite being at days’ notice to fire with no assigned target, confirms this need.”

The lawyers’ letter also calls for implementation of well-known measures to reduce nuclear dangers and facilitate nuclear disarmament, including ending nuclear sharing, in which Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey host US nuclear bombs, and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by hold-out states, including China, India, Pakistan, and the United States, to bring it into legal force.

The letter’s relevance goes beyond the current negotiations, and IALANA will keep the letter open for additional endorsers from members of the legal community. Sign on at https://www.ialana.info/lawyers-letter/