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Nuclear weapons and the law on human rights and future generations
May 1, 2018 @ 1:15 pm - 2:45 pm CEST
Tuesday May 1. 13:15-14:45
Room XVI, Palais de Nations, Geneva
Prof Dr (med) Andreas Nidecker (PhD)
President of the Basel Peace Office
Board Member of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War – Switzerland
Dr John Burroughs PhD (USA)
Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Director, UN Office of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Dr. Daniel Rietiker PhD (Switzerland)
International Law Lecturer, Lausanne University
Director, Swiss Association of Lawyers for Nuclear Disarmament
Dr Emilie Gaillard PhD (France)
Lecturer in Law, Université de Caen Normandie
Marzhan Nurzhan (Kazakhstan)
Convener of the Abolition 2000 Youth Network
International law of armed conflict, in particular international humanitarian law (jus in bello) and international law on peace and security (jus ad bellum), is generally accepted as applying to the use and threat to use nuclear weapons. The International Court of Justice applied this law in the 1996 Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat and Use of Nuclear Weapons to affirm that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be illegal.
The recent initiative on the humanitarian dimension of nuclear weapons has highlighted that the impact of nuclear weapons stretches beyond the normal limits of armed conflict, with the potential to cause catastrophic and trans-generational consequences to human health and the environment.
Developments across a wider body of law – including human rights law, environmental law and law protecting future generations – appear relevant for the legal status of nuclear weapons, strengthening the global norm against these weapons. One expression of this is in the recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which refers to human rights and future generations and obliges States Parties to assist past and future victims of use and testing of nuclear weapons.
This wider body of law is being tested in citizens’ tribunals, court cases and academic writings. It also creates opportunities to strengthen the norm of the illegality of nuclear weapons in a wider range of political, legal and human rights fora, such as the Human Rights Council or the Human Rights Committee. In addition, it provides a basis for engaging a wider range of legal practitioners and civil society constituencies in initiatives to prohibit nuclear weapons.
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