Media Statement: World Future Council condemns acts of aggression and calls for restoration of peace and international law

Media Statement: World Future Council condemns acts of aggression and calls for restoration of peace and international law

24th of February 2022 – The World Future Council condemns the Russian military action against Ukraine as an act of aggression that is clearly in violation of international law. Regardless of any grievances and unresolved conflicts that Russia may have with Ukraine and the United States/NATO,  the threat or use of force to resolve such conflicts is prohibited under Article 2 of the UN Charter. President Putin, in ordering military attacks against Ukraine, has committed a Crime Against Peace for which he is personally accountable as Head of State.

President Putin’s acts are catapulting Russia and Ukraine into an armed conflict that, if not stopped, will lead to catastrophic suffering of both combatants and civilians in Ukraine, place Russia at risk of counter attack which will cause suffering to Russian people many of whom oppose President Putin’s illegal actions, and could escalate to a broader regional war threatening peace and security in the world and elevating the risk of nuclear war.

War has no place in the 21st century when humanity already needs to address so many pressing issues such as climate change and implementing the SGDS.

We regret that better use was not made of diplomacy, mediation and common security mechanisms earlier in the conflict to address and resolve historical grievances. We call now on the international community to use all non-military means possible, including those outlined in Articles 33 – 41 of the UN Charter, to contain and reverse the invasion of Ukraine, and to hold President Putin criminally responsible for the act of aggression, along with other Russian officials who are complicit.

We stand in support of the people of Ukraine, Russia, Europe and the world who do not want war, who do not support the incendiary rhetoric and disinformation campaigns that have polarised relations between and within nations, who support dialogue and conflict resolution, who want to establish a sustainable peace for current and future generations, and who aspire for a world where governments no longer prepare for war with massive military spending but focus these resources instead on meeting human security needs like climate protection, public health and ending poverty

MEDIA CONTACT
Alyn Ware
Councillor, World Future Council
Founder and global coordinator of the network Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)
alyn@pnnd.org
Ph: +420 773 638 867

About the World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) works to pass on a healthy and sustainable planet with just and peaceful societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying, developing, highlighting, and spreading effective, future-just solutions for current challenges humanity is facing, and promote their implementation worldwide. The Council consists of 50 eminent global change-makers from governments, parliaments, civil societies, academia, the arts, and the business world. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organisation under German law and finance our activities with institutional partnerships and donations.

Media Statement: World Future Council condemns acts of aggression and calls for restoration of peace and international law

Media Statement: World Future Council condemns acts of aggression and calls for restoration of peace and international law

24th of February 2022 – The World Future Council condemns the Russian military action against Ukraine as an act of aggression that is clearly in violation of international law. Regardless of any grievances and unresolved conflicts that Russia may have with Ukraine and the United States/NATO,  the threat or use of force to resolve such conflicts is prohibited under Article 2 of the UN Charter. President Putin, in ordering military attacks against Ukraine, has committed a Crime Against Peace for which he is personally accountable as Head of State.

President Putin’s acts are catapulting Russia and Ukraine into an armed conflict that, if not stopped, will lead to catastrophic suffering of both combatants and civilians in Ukraine, place Russia at risk of counter attack which will cause suffering to Russian people many of whom oppose President Putin’s illegal actions, and could escalate to a broader regional war threatening peace and security in the world and elevating the risk of nuclear war.

War has no place in the 21st century when humanity already needs to address so many pressing issues such as climate change and implementing the SDGs.

We regret that better use was not made of diplomacy, mediation and common security mechanisms earlier in the conflict to address and resolve historical grievances. We call now on the international community to use all non-military means possible, including those outlined in Articles 33 – 41 of the UN Charter, to contain and reverse the invasion of Ukraine, and to hold President Putin criminally responsible for the act of aggression, along with other Russian officials who are complicit.

We stand in support of the people of Ukraine, Russia, Europe and the world who do not want war, who do not support the incendiary rhetoric and disinformation campaigns that have polarised relations between and within nations, who support dialogue and conflict resolution, who want to establish a sustainable peace for current and future generations, and who aspire for a world where governments no longer prepare for war with massive military spending but focus these resources instead on meeting human security needs like climate protection, public health and ending poverty

MEDIA CONTACT
Alyn Ware
Councillor, World Future Council
Co-Chair, World Future Council, Peace and Disarmament Commission
alyn@pnnd.org
Ph: +420 773 638 867

About the World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) works to pass on a healthy and sustainable planet with just and peaceful societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying, developing, highlighting, and spreading effective, future-just solutions for current challenges humanity is facing, and promote their implementation worldwide. The Council consists of 50 eminent global change-makers from governments, parliaments, civil societies, academia, the arts, and the business world. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organisation under German law and finance our activities with institutional partnerships and donations.

Count the Nuclear Weapons Money: 7 days and nights for disarmament

The intention of Count the Nuclear Weapons Money is to show the true scale of the investments that nine countries are planning for the modernisation of their nuclear arsenals over the next 10 years. Volunteers in New York, London (UK), New Mexico, Philadelphia and Wellington (New Zealand) gathered to manually count $1 Trillion over 7 days and 7 nights.

Press Release: Disarmament and divestment conference in Basel

Hamburg/New York, 5th April 2019 – Global contest announced by the World Future Council, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), with the support of the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Youth Policy Labs.

The best way to honour Judge Weeramantry is by learning from and using his legacy

With the passing of Judge C.G. Weeramantry on 5 January the peace, disarmament and sustainability movements have lost a monumental figure. Judge Weeramantry dedicated his life to strengthening and expanding the rule of international law and demonstrated how the rule of law can be used to address critical global challenges such as the continued threat of nuclear weapons, the protection of human rights and the protection of the environment.

In addition to being one of the brightest legal minds on these issues, he was a tireless activist. Nuclear weapons were always a particular concern of his. As we face a future still marked by the nuclear threat, his wisdom and activism will be sorely missed. Fortunately, in the five decades spanning his career he has produced some of the most pioneering, convincing and eloquent analysis and arguments on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons.

We would do well to revisit some of Judge Weeramantry’s treatises and learn from them as we continue to make the case for a world free of nuclear weapons. These include:

 

  • Dissenting Opinion, International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons

    As relevant today as when he wrote it, Judge Weeramantry’s strong dissent from the majority’s decision to leave undetermined the legality of the use of nuclear weapons in self-defence when the survival of the state would be at stake, is one of the most authoritative and comprehensive arguments on the illegality of nuclear weapons “in all circumstances and without reservation.”

    See here for a summary.

  • Why the Nuclear Danger Grows from Day to Day

    The World Future Council co-published this informative booklet with the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research on the occasions of the 2005 and 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences. In concise yet convincing arguments, Judge Weeramantry highlights the uniqueness of the nuclear threat and how our complacency risks the human future: “Never in the history of humanity has such urgency existed in relation to any issue and never were the consequences so devastating to the human future and to all that we hold dear. The danger grows not from year to year or from month to month but from day to day.”

As long as nuclear weapons exist, Judge Weeramantry’s unique insights and arguments remain powerful and pertinent. Using the legacy he has left us to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons would be the greatest tribute we can pay him.

Move the nuclear weapons money

pnnd-handbook-nuclear-spending-english_v05-1

Abstract

The military-industrial complex is a formidable union of armed forces and defence contractors using their power to move governments and parliaments to maintain high military budgets. Those pursuing nuclear disarmament need to find ways of countering this power. Anti-nuclear activists and other civil society leaders need to join forces with progressive legislators, non-nuclear governments and allies within the governments of nuclear-armed states in order to reduce the lobbying power of the nuclear weapons corporations, and move the money from nuclear weapons budgets to fund social, economic and environmental programs instead.

This handbook provides ideas, examples and resources for legislators and civil society in order to realise this aim. The handbook will focus primarily on national and federal legislators, who are the ones with authority to decide on national budgets. However, the handbook will also include ideas, examples and resources for working with legislators at local and regional levels, and with other key institutions, such as banks and investment companies.

Full Report

3D-Street Art highlights Global Call for Disarmament

From October 1-3, a three-dimensional street painting of a nuclear missile being fired from the ground was unveiled next to the German Parliament. The art project occurred in conjunction with the opening of an international conference Disarm! For a Climate of Peace – Creating an Action Agenda.

Read more

Achieving a world without nuclear weapons: the contribution of domestic and regional policies

The establishment of Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) in the past has made invaluable contributions to global nuclear disarmament. The further spread of such zones as well as adoption of domestic nuclear prohibition and divestment policies can pave the way for multilateral solutions. The World Future Council has developed proposals on how to further foster nuclear disarmament through national and regional policies.

Nuclear weapons are a global threat which requires a global solution. However, domestic and regional policies can make a vital contribution to advancing universal nuclear disarmament. While the treaties establishing the existing regional Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones are well known and generally regarded as critical contributions to global nuclear disarmament (together covering 114 states), the instances of national nuclear prohibition legislation and nuclear divestment policies have not received the same amount of attention or, indeed, credit. This is unfortunate as these policies have advanced nuclear disarmament, can inspire other countries to follow suit and contain lessons for the global disarmament endeavour.

Between 2 May and 13 May 2016 the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) met for a second round in Geneva to discuss proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons. The OEWG was established on the basis of a UN General Assembly resolution. Among the participants were numerous countries (though notably absent were all the nuclear-armed states), advocacy groups, research institutes, academic institutes and think tanks, including the World Future Council.

From domestic to international law – Stories of successful legislation

Some countries, such as New Zealand, the Philippines, Austria and Mongolia have banned nuclear weapons through national legislation. These policies have contributed to strengthening the nuclear prohibition norm and addressed specific security challenges.

Some of the laws contain innovative elements such as individual responsibility and extraterritorial application in the case of the New Zealand law, which prohibits New Zealand’s citizens and residents to manufacture, to acquire, to possess or to control nuclear weapons as well as to aid and to abet any other person to do so anywhere in the world. These aspects of the policy could be useful to multilateral efforts to criminalise nuclear weapons employment such as through the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.

In the case of Mongolia, the country’s subsequent work to have its nuclear weapon-free status recognised and respected through acquiring assurances by the nuclear-armed states they won’t target Mongolia with nuclear weapons, means its policy is seen to have acquired the status of ‘Single State NWFZ’.

All policies contain elements and lessons that could be considered in the pursuit of similar policies elsewhere. The triggering effect of single countries building a regime of domestic regional nuclear disarmament law should not be underestimated.

For example, Belgium adopted national legislation banning landmines and cluster munitions as well as any investment in such weapons, before the international processes that would ultimately culminate in the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions had started. This demonstrates how domestic legislative initiatives can inspire, strengthen and shape the international processes that culminate in international disarmament treaties.

Banning investment in nuclear weapons

Divestment of landmines and cluster munitions producers has successfully been adopted in a number of countries. Divestment from corporations involved in the production of key components of nuclear weapons has not been pursued with the same vigour, though the Norwegian and New Zealand Government Pension Funds have implemented such schemes. More recently, the Swiss War Materials Act was revised to prohibit, inter alia, the financing of nuclear weapon producers. The effect of such divestment policies should not be underestimated. They contribute to stigmatising nuclear weapons and address the financial streams tied up in their production.

An interesting aspect of both nuclear prohibition and divestment policies is that they can lead to the democratisation of the nuclear disarmament debate, as they often originate from public movements and require legislators to become active on the issue. Furthermore, such policies can institutionalize nuclear disarmament expertise and commitment through the creation of organs committed to promoting policy objectives as well as become educational tools, both domestically and abroad. Perhaps most importantly, they offer a way for non-nuclear weapon states to take the initiative out of the hands of the nuclear-armed states, brandish their nuclear disarmament credentials, codify nuclear disarmament norms and in the process exert pressure on the possessor states.

Lifelong Canadian disarmament campaigner Douglas Roche has said that “the anti-nuclear weapons campaign is following the classic lines of other great social movements, such as the end of slavery, colonialism and apartheid: at first, the idea is dismissed by the powerful, then when the idea starts to take hold, it is vigorously objected to until, by persistence, the idea enters the norm of public thinking and laws start to be changed.” Countries should ensure they end up on the right side of history by adopting laws that strengthen and speed up the global effort to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones or NWFZs are zones that have been established on the basis of a treaty or convention which are characterized by the total absence of nuclear weapons. Every state has the right and sovereignty to establish such a zone and to determine its frontier. An international system of verification and control guarantees compliance with the rules established. These zones must be recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

 

Q&A: The Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Disarmament Cases

Oral hearings on the preliminary phase of the nuclear disarmament cases brought by the Marshall Islands against India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom took place at the International Court of Justice in The Hague from 7-16 March. Members of the World Future Council have been involved in this unprecedented legal action since its launch in 2014 and some were present during the oral arguments at the Court. This Q&A, created by the Nuclear Peace Foundation,  explains the cases.

What is the source of the International Court of Justice’s legal authority?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in 1945 by the UN Charter. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN bodies and agencies. The Court’s 15 judges are elected by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.

Which countries are the Marshall Islands suing, and why?

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has a unique and devastating history with nuclear weapons. From 1946 – 1958 the United States conducted 67 nuclear weapons test explosions over the Marshall Islands, the equivalent of 1.7 Hiroshima-sized bombs daily for 12 years. Castle Bravo, the largest bomb ever tested, was 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Birth defects never seen before and other radiation-related health effects continue to plague the Marshallese people.

On April 24, 2014 the RMI filed individual Applications in the ICJ instituting proceedings against the nine nuclear-armed States: the U.S., Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. The RMI contends that each of these States is in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and/or customary international law to end the nuclear arms race and to engage in negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

Article VI of the NPT states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” The UK is a founding member of the NPT, which entered into force in 1970. The U.S., Russia, France and China are also nuclear-armed members of the NPT; nuclear-armed India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea are not. The RMI joined the Treaty in 1995 as a non-nuclear-weapon State and in turn received the binding legal promise of the States parties to the Treaty, including the nuclear-armed States.

In a 1996 Advisory Opinion, the ICJ issued an authoritative interpretation of Article VI and recognized a parallel customary international law obligation, concluding unanimously: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” This Opinion is not limited to NPT members; it applies to all States.

No negotiations on nuclear disarmament have ever been initiated and all of the nuclear-armed states are currently engaged in programs to modernize and qualitatively improve their nuclear arsenals, with an eye toward their indefinite retention. India and Pakistan are also engaged in quantitative arms racing.

Why were hearings held only in the cases of the UK, India and Pakistan?

At this time, only the UK, India and Pakistan – among the nuclear-armed states – accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. The other nuclear-armed states were invited to respond to the Applications submitted by the RMI. China declined; the others did not respond.

What was the scope of the hearings?

This stage of the cases was limited to preliminary objections. The UK and India claimed that they have strong records of support for nuclear disarmament, arguing therefore that there is no dispute for the Court to adjudicate. The RMI countered that actions speak louder than words, citing the UK’s consistent record of voting against nuclear disarmament resolutions in the UN General Assembly and its plans to replace its Trident nuclear weapons system. With respect to India and Pakistan, the RMI cited programs underway for expansion, improvement and diversification of their nuclear arsenals. The UK and India also argued that the cases cannot proceed without other states possessing nuclear arms being before the Court; that the relief requested would be ineffective; and that various exceptions to their declarations accepting the jurisdiction of the Court apply, excluding jurisdiction.

Pakistan withdrew from participation in the oral pleadings at the last minute, declaring it had nothing to add to its written submission.

What will happen next?

The ICJ will issue separate rulings in each case, probably within three to six months. If the Court rules in favor of the RMI, the cases will move to the merits phase and more written arguments and hearings will be scheduled. If the Court rules against the RMI in any case, that case will be over.

What relief is the Marshall Islands seeking?

The RMI is asking the Court to declare that the UK is in violation of its obligations under Article VI of the NPT and customary international law by failing to pursue in good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament, by taking action to qualitatively improve its nuclear weapons system and to maintain and modernize for the indefinite future, and by failing to pursue negotiations that would end nuclear arms racing. The RMI also requests the Court to order the UK to take all steps necessary to comply with its obligations under Article VI of the NPT and under customary international law within one year of the Judgement, including the pursuit of negotiations in good faith aimed at the conclusion of a convention on nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The RMI is asking the Court to declare that India and Pakistan are in violation of their obligations under customary international law, by failing to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament, by failing to pursue negotiations on cessation of the nuclear arms race, and by engaging in the quantitative buildup and qualitative improvement of their nuclear forces to maintain them for the indefinite future, contrary to the objectives of nuclear disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race. The RMI also requests the Court to order India and Pakistan to take all steps necessary to comply with its obligations under customary international law with respect to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and nuclear disarmament within one year of the Judgement, including the pursuit of negotiations in good faith aimed at the conclusion of a convention on nuclear disarmament strict and effective international control.

The RMI is not seeking monetary compensation in these cases.

Where can I get more information?

A. General information about the cases is available at: nuclearzero.org. Written submissions by the RMI, UK, India and Pakistan, and verbatim records of the oral pleadings are posted at http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3 Videos and photos from the oral pleadings are posted at www.icj-cij.org/multimedia.