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/

IALANA working papers on the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination

Two most recent IALANA working papers have been posted on the UN website:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/unoda-web/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/A-CONF.229-2017-NGO-WP.37.pdf (prohibitions and preamble)

https://s3.amazonaws.com/unoda-web/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/A-CONF.229-2017-NGO-WP.381.pdf  (nuclear-armed states and other issues)

You can get some sense of how the negotiations are going from:

http://reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/reports

http://reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban

https://www.un.org/disarmament/ptnw/index.html

The Public Conscience Awakens – An overview of the draft ban treaty

By Amela Skiljan, IPB Coordinator & Board Member of the German IALANA

On Monday, 22nd of May, the Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was publicly released by Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, the president of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.

It is the result of the first discussion round held in New York 27-31.03.2017. Continue reading “The Public Conscience Awakens – An overview of the draft ban treaty”

Unterzeichnen Sie den JuristInnenbrief zur Abschaffung von Kernwaffen

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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Common Security instead of Nuclear Deterrence

Presentation “Common Security instead of nuclear Deterrence – End the Nuclear Age. The Confrontation between North Korea and the U.S.A. and the principle of collective security” by Otto Jäckel  at the Vienna International Center on 2 May 2017 on occasion of the first session of the 2017  Preparatory  Committee  for  the  2020  Nuclear  Non-Proliferation Treaty Revue Conference.

Common Security instead of nuclear Deterrence