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

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

 

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”

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/