Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, and Human Survival

June 20th, 2021 - by Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy Newsletter

Will Biden and Putin Finally Advance Disarmament? 

Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy Newsletter

 (June 2021) — The first meeting of states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been set: January 12-14, 2022 in Vienna. LCNP looks forward to supporting the robust development of the newest disarmament treaty regime.

Presidents Biden and Putin engaged in their first summit in Geneva on Wednesday. While this diplomatic meeting did not produce concrete, actionable disarmament commitments, the heads of state affirmed in a joint statement their “commitment to nuclear arms control” and repeated the dictum,  “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” 

In an effort to push the Biden administration to take stronger action on nuclear disarmament, and to move away from astronomical defense budgets prioritizing billions to modernization, LCNP will be engaging the executive branch in advance of its finalizing the Nuclear Posture Review. As always, we will push for the US to uphold its obligation to negotiate disarmament under international law and to further multilateral diplomacy on this point, particularly with Russia and China.

UN Human Rights Committee Reviews France

The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy led a list of issues prior to reporting submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee concerning France’s nuclear weapons program. This submission establishes the illegality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and addresses France’s nuclear policy and its legacy of nuclear testing, which continues to irreparably harm the local and Indigenous populations of French Polynesia. 

The submission begins: 
The use and threat of use of nuclear weapons is incompatible with multiple rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). For practical reasons, however, this submission concentrates on the non-derogable right to life (Article 6)—the most fundamental human right. 

Article 6 of the ICCPR defines the right to life in its paragraph 1 in the following terms: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” 

We will demonstrate in this submission that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would constitute an “arbitrary deprivation” of life and amount, as a result, to a breach of ICCPR Article 6. 

In 2018, in General Comment 36, the United Nations Human Rights Committee addressed nuclear weapons, finding among other things that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons “is incompatible with respect for the right to life.” The general comment is considered the Committee’s authentic interpretation of the right to life within the meaning of Article 6 and the relevant practice thereto. 

In this submission, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), Swiss Lawyers for Nuclear Disarmament (SLND), Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (JALANA), and International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), drawing on the general comment, maintain that the policy and practice of France in relation to nuclear weapons contravenes the right to life under the ICCPR in multiple ways.

 We address: France’s nuclear arsenal; the illegality of threat or use of nuclear weapons; the obligation to negotiate to achieve nuclear disarmament; adequate reparation to victims of nuclear explosive testing; and the least diversion of resources. Finally, we offer suggested questions, including one regarding a recent report concerning the inadequacy of compensation to victims of testing. 

The submission in full can be found HERE.

Nuclear Weapons and the Legal Norms of Non-use and Abolition”

Statement by LCNP Executive Director Ariana Smith (13 October 2020)

Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, and Human Survival

On May 11th, LCNP co-sponsored an event presented by the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security. Other co-sponsors included All Souls Nuclear Disarmament Task Force and Parliament of World Religions. This event emphasized the importance of raising awareness about issues surrounding nuclear weapons and climate change. 

The theme: In order to see real change in nuclear issues, the public must approach nuclear weapons issues with the same urgency that it approaches climate issues, as they are both interlinked.

A recording of the event in full can be accessed HERE.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead:
The 25th Anniversary of the 1996 ICJ Advisory Opinion

Hosted by the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA)

On 8 July 1996, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its Advisory Opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. It was the first authoritative international judicial opinion on nuclear weapons since their development in the 1940s. Moreover, it is generally considered one of the most important opinions that the ICJ has delivered.

In spite of the, sometimes, controversial conclusions drawn by the, lowest possible, majority of Judges, it functions as an important reference for civil society in its work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Leading international lawyers and activists, professors of international law, and experts on arms control and disarmament law will discuss the importance of the Opinion and its relevance for the present day struggle towards nuclear disarmament. 

The webinar will also address more recent developments, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and General Comment No. 36 on the right to life of the UN Human Rights Committee. Finally, it will address the question of what lessons can be drawn from the opinion regarding achievement of a world without nuclear weapons. 

Confirmed Speakers Include:

•   Christine Chinkin, Emeritus Professor of International Law, London School of Economics (LSE)
•   Paolo Palchetti, Professor of International Law, Université de Paris (Sorbonne 1) 
•   Amela Skiljan, Vice-chair of IALANA Germany, PhD candidate 
•   Phon van den Biesen, Attorney at Law in Amsterdam, Co-President IALANA
•   John Burroughs, Senior Analyst, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, and Vice President IALANA
•   Daniel Rietiker, International Law Lecturer, Lausanne University, Co-President IALANA

Video Messages:
• Takeya Sasaki, IALANA co-president
• Kenichi Okubo, JALANA president

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