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A NEW APPROACH TO NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT Learning from International Humanitarian Law Success Dr Patricia M. Lewis.

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Presentation on theme: "A NEW APPROACH TO NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT Learning from International Humanitarian Law Success Dr Patricia M. Lewis."— Presentation transcript:

1 A NEW APPROACH TO NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT Learning from International Humanitarian Law Success Dr Patricia M. Lewis

2 Nuclear weapons characteristics  Massive casualties  Long lasting horrendous effects  Distorting international relations  Spreading & could spread to non-state armed groups  Risk of use by accident or design

3 Inhumane Inherently indiscriminate Illegitimate Greater than required suffering Violate the “dictates of the public conscience”

4 Nuclear weapons today  Not militarily useful - cannot be used to take territory in a military campaign.  They have no role in today’s conflicts.  Nuclear deterrence questionable  Proliferation stimulant

5 Questioning nuclear deterrence  Belief that nuclear weapons provide a special form of crisis-stable deterrence and that nuclear deterrence prevented global conflict during the Cold War.  If true, should all states possess nuclear weapons?  But nuclear weapons did not change humanity fundamentally; we still go to war.  There were long periods without war in Europe in centuries past, when nuclear weapons played no part.  Historians now doubt the influence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and increasingly ascribe the Japanese surrender to the Soviet declaration of war on August 9, 1945.

6 Memory of Solferino  In 1862, in his Memory of Solferino, the founder of the Red Cross Movement, Henri Dunant said  “If the new and frightful weapons of destruction which are now at the disposal of the nations, seem destined to abridge the duration of future wars, it appears likely … that future battle will become more and more murderous”  The use, misuse, control and prohibition of weapons is woven throughout the history of international humanitarian law

7 IHL and the use of weapons in combat  Combatants are prohibited to use weapons which are inherently indiscriminate or which are of a nature to inflict suffering greater than that required to take combatants “out of action”.  Weapons which violate the “dictates of the public conscience” may also be prohibited on that basis alone.  The use of weapons which cause widespread, long- term and severe damage to the natural environment is prohibited.

8 Chemical Weapons But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime... Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. “Dulce et Decorum Est “, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

9 Chlorine, phosgene and mustard  By 1918 the use of use of poison gases had become widespread, particularly on the Western Front  Approx 100,000 tons of gas was used in World War I  Over a million casualties from the use of gas: 100,000 deaths, with survivors left severely disabled for the rest of their lives

10 Chem-Bio Controls  1919 Treaty of Versailles: “The use of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and all analogous liquids, materials or devices being prohibited, their manufacture and importation are strictly forbidden in Germany.”  1925, the Geneva Protocol, prohibiting the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, was agreed at the conference for the supervision of the international trade in arms and ammunition, at the League of Nations  1972 Bioweapons Convention – abolition  1993 Chemical Weapons Convention - abolition

11 Inhumane conventional weapons  Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons CCW 1980 & Protocols  Mine Ban Convention MBC – 1997  UN Programme of Action on Small Arms - 2001  Convention on Cluster Munitions CCM – 2008  Arms Trade Treaty process & progress

12 Disarmament as humanitarian action  “The humanitarian perspectives of deminers, landmine survivors, and humanitarian and medical personnel among others were vital ingredients.  ‘Disarmament as humanitarian action’ reflects the generic value of diversity of perspective in multilateral disarmament work.  Seeing security in human terms makes sense. And problems of human insecurity, augmented by the availability of weapons, are nearer our doorsteps in an increasingly interconnected world than we often imagine.”

13 Arms Control CommunityHumanitarian Community The treaty isn’t perfectNothing is, we will not let the best be the enemy of the good (and by the way, show me a perfect arms control treaty) Not all key players are in the treatyThe door is open for them to join Unless the key players are negotiating treaty it is worthless If key players water down a treaty, it has little value Unless all the key players join the treaty is it pointless The treaty is having an impact on all countries inside and outside We have to get everyone on board and the terms and conditions agreed before we start We start with knowing what we what to achieve and begin from where we are and who wants to negotiate Not all weapons have been destroyedGive us time, they will be, and, in the meantime, lives are being saved

14 Red Cross and Nuclear Weapons  In 1954 the Board of Governors of the Red Cross pleaded with all the powers to “work unceasingly for general disarmament and to prohibit the use—absolutely and effectively— of all nuclear weapons as well as chemical and biological weapons”

15 ICJ 1996  In 1996, the fourteen judges of the International Court of Justice issued an Advisory Opinion about the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons.  They concluded unanimously that the principles and rules of international humanitarian law apply to the use of nuclear weapons.

16 The ICRC on the ICJ decision  “Turning now to the nature of nuclear weapons, ……. the ICRC finds it difficult to envisage how a use of nuclear weapons could be compatible with the rules of international humanitarian law.  “We are convinced that because of their devastating effects no one ever wants to see these weapons used. It is the ICRC’s earnest hope that the opinion of the Court will give fresh impetus to the international community’s efforts to rid humanity of this terrible threat”.

17 WMD Commission 2006  “Nuclear, biological and chemical arms are the most inhumane of all weapons. Designed to terrify as well as destroy, they can, in the hands of either states or non-state actors, cause destruction on a vastly greater scale than any conventional weapons, and their impact is far more indiscriminate and long-lasting.

18 IHL application to nuclear weapons  At the heart of the approach is the issue of human security, the protection of civilians, the application of the laws of war.  Weapons that are inherently indiscriminate or that are of a nature to inflict unnecessary suffering that violate the sense of decency (“dictates of the public conscience”) and that cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment are indeed nuclear weapons.

19 IHL and Disarmament Treaty Law  Disarmament treaty law is rooted in the already existing norms that have been established by international humanitarian and human rights law.  When progress in disarmament has been achieved, it is because the devastating impact of the weapons on people has been understood.

20 What works  Pragmatic Approach  Essential – people protection measures  Build on what works  Ensure Cognitive Diversity

21 Steps 1,2,3: Prohibitions  In the first place protect, prevent massacre and the effects of the weapon. In the second place, remove the source of the problem—leading us to the outlawing of nuclear weapons.  Prohibition of First Use  Prohibition of Use  Prohibition of Possession

22 People-Centered Path  Demand highly effective outcomes not lowest common denominator results.  One of the most important factors in success is to keep the bar high – fewer states will agree.  Pragmatism in the way things get done is far more effective than emotionally clinging to obsolete methods and practice.

23 Results Matter  The key focus on human security and humanitarian perspectives means making proposals that will make a difference in reality.  Focusing on the results that a negotiation will produce is no less than the public deserves.  NWS and others should not be feeling happy, comfortable and unaffected during the negotiations.

24 Getting there  Ambition is required  A core group of states, NGOS and international organizations  A variety of strategies are required - mix of multilateral, plurilateral, bilateral and unilateral  Engagement of the public is critical  Well-targeted, successful campaign and adequate financing  A multilayered approach to the issues is required and different types of players and negotiations are required for different types of measures


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