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

 

Tony de Brum, former Marshall Islands foreign minister, died on August 22, 2017

Tony de Brum, beloved nuclear disarmament and climate change hero, has died at his home in Majuro, following a long illness. Tony’s unwavering passion and commitment, his warmth and humanity will be sorely missed. Tony was one of a kind. Our hearts go out to his family. Read more about Tony’s life and accomplishments below.

Obituary: Tony de Brum, Marshallese climate and anti-nuclear crusader http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/08/22/tony-de-brum-marshallese-climate-anti-nuclear-crusader-dies-aged-72/

 Former Marshall Islands minister, Nobel nominee Tony de Brum dies http://www.guampdn.com/story/news/2017/08/22/former-marshall-islands-minister-nobel-nominee-tony-de-brum-dies/588769001/

Speech by John Burroughs at rally at Livermore Laboratory in 2016 with focus on the Marshall Islands http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/J.Burroughs_Speech_Aug9_2016.pdf

Award ceremony of the Arms Control Person of the Year award 2017 to Tony de Brum / Republic of Marshall Islands https://www.armscontrol.org/ArmsControl17

Washington Post: Tony de Brum, global voice for fighting climate change, dies https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/tony-de-brum-global-voice-for-fighting-climate-change-dies/2017/08/22/f331761c-87a5-11e7-96a7-d178cf3524eb_story.html?utm_term=.6628e3f9550a

New York Times: Tony de Brum, Voice of Pacific Islands on Climate Change, Dies at 72 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/world/tony-de-brum-dead-climate-change-advocate.html?_r=0

 

Letter to Mrs de Brum by IALANA Germany

Dear Mrs de Brum,

On behalf of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms Germany, it is with a heavy heart that I must send our deepest condolences to you, your family and the people of the Marshall Islands.

Whoever had the fortune and privilege to meet and to know your husband would always be deeply moved by his representation of the Marshall Islands. He displayed great political courage, clarity and fortitude while always remaining warm-hearted and poetic.

When he spoke, one experienced and understood the destiny of the entire Marshall Islands and all its people. The speech he gave in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague about the children of the Marshall Islands who played with the ash of the nuclear fallout as it fell out of the sky, placing it in their mouth as if it were snow, remains one of the most moving speeches ever to be given in a court of law.

The depth of his personality will be a permanent inspiration for us to remain strong in our ongoing efforts to ensure that never again will people, anywhere in the world, have to face the usage of an atomic weapon.

Warmest regards,

Otto Jäckel

Chairman, IALANA Germany

Letter to Mrs de Brum by JALANA

 

 

 

Publication: Humanization of Arms Control. Paving the Way for a World free of Nuclear Weapons

Despite clear legal rules and political commitments, no significant progress has been made in nuclear disarmament for two decades. Moreover, not even the use of these weapons has been banned to date. New ideas and strategies are therefore necessary. The author explores an alternative approach to arms control focusing on the human dimension rather than on States’ security: “humanization” of arms control!

Daniel Rietiker (PhD) is a senior lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights and teaches international law and human rights at Suffolk University Law School (Boston, MA) and Lausanne University (Switzerland).

Continue reading here

Words of Greetings to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemorations

Some contemporary philosophers and scientists would have us believe that evil does not exist. They are wrong. Hitler’s gas chambers were evil, torture is evil and nuclear weapons are evil incarnate. Their power to kill as agents of mass destruction is unparalleled and the manner in which they kill is unbelievably brutal. As the International Court of Justice said, they cannot be controlled in time or space. Those who seek to “modernize” and maintain them are complicit in their evil. And those who, like you, are striving to abolish all nuclear weapons forever are doing the work of goodness, which is the opposite of evil. Let us persevere in that task until it is accomplished.

Peter Weiss

President Emeritus

Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York

Statement: JALANA welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

JALANA welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

On July 7th, the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by a vote of 122 to 1 (Netherlands), with one abstention (Singapore). As many as 63 percent of the 193 UN member states voted for the Treaty. We heartily welcome the adoption of this Treaty that should be a landmark step toward a “world free of nuclear weapons.” Continue reading “Statement: JALANA welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”