Friday, 08 July 2016 18:58 John Hallam

8JULY 2016

20 years ago today, the International Court of Justice bought down an advisory opinion, that showed that in almost all conceivable circumstances, the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal. The court ruled unanimously that there is an obligation on the part of the nuclear weapon states to negotiate away their nuclear arsenals.
...And today, the International Peoples Tribunal on the Nuclear Powers and the destruction of Civilization concluded two intense days of taking evidence about the facts and the legalities of nuclear weapons use and possession.
The tribunal, ably chaired by former NZ minister for disarmament Matt Robson and notable barrister Dr Keith Suter, has taken evidence from a number of top- flight experts and lobbyists on nuclear weapons, including today, Professor Emile Gaillard an expert in emerging international law protecting future generations, Professor Marianne Hanson of the University of Queensland, and legal experts for the defense, David Tait and James Elmslie.
The Tribunal has been organized by Professor Peter King of Sydney University Center for peace and Conflict Studies and the Human Survival Project, and John Hallam, UN Nuclear Weapons Lobbyist with People for Nuclear Disarmament and the Human Survival Project. It was co-sponsored by Aotearoa Lawyers for Peace. Prosecution was led by Alyn Ware, who was instrumental in the original 1996 ICJ decision and who coordinates the Parliamentary network for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament.

The tribunal also hosted the launch of Chain Reaction 2016 (press-release below), a global series of nuclear disarmament events. 
The Tribunal will bring down its conclusions on 9 August, which is Nagasaki Day.


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July 8, 2016
Chain Reaction 2016, a series of events and actions at nuclear-weapons and nuclear-disarmament related sites around the world, was launched today in Sydney during anInternational Peoples’ Tribunal on Nuclear Weapons and the Destruction of Human Civilisation.
A nuclear bomb destroys through an uncontrollable chain reaction of atoms being split in two,’ said Alyn Ware one of the organisers. ‘Today, we are launching a chain reaction of peace actions by people to counter the threat posed by these instruments of mass destruction.’
‘The first of these events is this tribunal which highlights the responsibility of leaders of nuclear armed States and those under extended nuclear deterrence doctrines to end the illegal threat nuclear weapons pose to human civilization,’ said John Hallam one of the organisers of the International People’s Tribunal. ‘There are nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons in existence, many ready to launch within minutes. The world could be obliterated in a matter of minutes – whether by accident, miscalculation, or intent. Chain Reaction 2016 and this Tribunal aim to end this existential threat to humanity.
‘Chain Reaction is being launched on July 8, the 20th anniversary of the historic decision by the International Court of Justice in 1996 on nuclear weapons,’ said Hon Matt Robson, one of the judges of the International People’s Tribunal and a former New Zealand Minister for Courts and Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control. ‘In 1996 the ICJ affirmed that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally illegal, and that there is an unconditional obligation to achieve their eliminationToday in the Peoples’ Tribunal we have heard frightening testimony on the current risks and the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons use, as well as international law applicable to this issue. We will make a judgement on the responsibility of world leaders with regard to this situation on August 9, the 71st anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons against the city and people of Nagasaki’.   
‘Chain Reaction 2016 includes a range of creative actions around the world from today until October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and the UN International Day for Non-violence,’ says Caroline Leroy from UNFOLD ZERO, the organisers of Chain Reaction 2016. ‘A number of international peace, religious, environment and law networks are participating through fasts, vigils, exhibitions, bike rides, walks, symposiums, parliamentary lobbying days, symbolic events and other actions to demonstrate that people around the world are calling for nuclear abolition.’    
Chain Reaction 2016 is highlighting a number of international opportunities, especially at the United Nations, to make progress on nuclear disarmament, including case lodged in the International Court of Justice by the Marshall Islands against the nuclear-armed States, the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament, a UN Open Ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multi-lateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations (OEWG), a UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament to take place in 2018, and ‘A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Our Common Good‘ and international joint statement of mayors, parliamentarians and religious leaders.
‘UNFOLD ZERO will report to the UN Secretary-General, UN General Assembly and governments participating in the OEWG on the Chain Reaction events around the world, in order to influence these processes,’ said Ms Leroy.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 July 2016 19:00