Every decent person knows full well, in their heart of hearts, that bringing nuclear war down upon humanity would be utterly unconscionable. It would plunge our imperfect civilized world into unbridled barbarism. There is no need to go into the details of the risks we court by the very existence of large stockpiles of these ultimate instruments of mass terror and global catastrophe, or how those risks are severely compounded by national policies which countenance – i.e., threaten – their use. They must never be used again and all threats to do so must end.
Now there is an excellent opportunity to register your profound disgust at the prospect of a nuclear war being launched. In legal terms, it is a “declaration of conscience” and when it is done publicly together with enough people, it is called a “Dictate of Public Conscience” which actually has standing in international law.
In mid-April, NoFirstUse Global started the ball rolling with “Nuclear Taboo: from Norm to Law; A Declaration of Public Conscience.” It has already gathered over 1000 signatures from over 100 countries, and will be presented in Hiroshima to the delegations participating in the Summit of the Group of Seven – Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US – in mid-May. From there we aim to reach 10,000 signatures by early August, for presentation to the Summit being held by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, known by their initials, BRICS. In September we will come “full circle” back to the Group of Twenty Summit – which also includes, Heads of Government of Argentina, Australia, Mexico, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Turkey, plus the High Representatives of the European Union.
Why “full circle”? Because it was at the most recent summit of the G20 in Bali, Indonesia, that all these leaders or, in a few cases, their top official representatives issued a Declaration which covers many issues of economic and social importance, as they traditionally do every year, but this time they also dealt with international security, and – to the pleasant surprise of many – had this very sensible thing to say:
“The use of threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”
“Inadmissible” and “unconscionable” are synonymous. So, in drafting the “Declaration of Public Conscience” we have adopted the G20 sentence word-for-word. Every person who loves planet Earth, and who believes that our civilization deserves a future free from the nuclear threat, should seize this opportunity to express their conscience.
If we remain silent, we will have only ourselves to blame if the eleven words from Bali get buried by more nuclear threats, and – Heaven Forbid! – global nuclear barbarism. Even if you have never discussed this issue with friends and acquaintances before, take it up with them now. You will find that, more often than not, they will thank you for this opportunity to speak up and they may even ask others to do so.
By the time the G20 meets in New Delhi, we aim to have 100,000 signatures. But we will not stop there! The Declaration of Public Conscience calls upon the United Nations to elevate the inadmissible and unconscionable to the illegal. We are confident that, even if the Security Council cannot rise to this challenge, the General Assembly will. Before it votes on this matter, we aim to present 1,000,000 signatures of those “declaring their public conscience.” You must be among that number!
Time will tell, of course, but one obvious course of action would be to return to the International Court of Justice, and ask if they are now ready to express an opinion on ALL legal aspects of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. You see, in 1996, they found that in general terms the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be illegal, but they passed on drawing a conclusion under circumstances “in which the very survival of the state was in question.” That unanswered question has been treated as a loophole by the nations that continue to amassed nuclear terror device of all descriptions – incorrectly considered “weapons of war”– and claim that any threats – even those involving legitimate weapons of war – jeopardize the very survival of their state when, in point of fact, it is these barbaric arsenals that threaten civilization itself!
That unanswered question must be tackled, the “loophole” denied, and the hard work of establishing a nuclear terror-devices free world must begin post haste. When this comes back to the ICJ, who knows how many millions of people will have signed the Declaration of Public Conscience by then? But surely more than enough to be seen as evidence of a “Dictate of Public Conscience” to which the court must assign preponderant weight. Let’s tip the scales of justice against these terrible, terrorizing, threats to all we hold dear in the world.
Written by Aaron Tovish