InternationalPeoples Tribunal on the Nuclear Powers and the Destruction of Human Civilisation
July 6-8, 2016
Woolley Common Room, Woolley Bldg
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Hosted byCPACS, the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies (Human Survival Project), and SCIL, the Sydney Centre for International Law, at Sydney University
Co-sponsored by Aotearoa Lawyers for Peace and People for Nuclear Disarmament, New South Wales
On July 8, 1996, the International Court of Justice affirmed that the destructive impact of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in time or space, that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally violate international law, and that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations on nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.
20 years later, and there is little progress by the nine nuclear-armed countries and the thirty-one other countries reliant on nuclear weapons to adhere to their legal obligations not to threaten the use of nuclear weapons and to achieve nuclear disarmament. Indeed, nuclear weapon policies appear to have remained the same, while the risks of nuclear weapons use have grown, knowledge about the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons has increased (including the impact on climate), and the law against nuclear weapons has strengthened.
In January this year, the Doomsday Clock was set at 3 Minutes to Midnight, an indication that the world has returned again to the prospect of a nuclear holocaust that could destroy civilization or possibly even cause human extinction. This threat to human civilization was highlighted in a UN General Assembly Resolution entitled Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, adopted on December 7, 2015 and supported by 144 governments.
This tribunal will examine nuclear weapons policies of the nine nuclear armed countries and of one nuclear-reliant country, outline the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons use, and apply current law to these policies to determine legality.
The tribunal will focus primarily on the threat to human civilization from the multiple use of nuclear weapons, but will also consider more limited uses of nuclear weapons by state actors.
In line with the practice of the Nuremburg Tribunals, International Criminal Court and Ad Hoc Tribunals on Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Peoples’ Tribunal will also consider individual responsibility for current nuclear weapons policies, particularly the responsibility of the head of State.
The trial will consist of:
An Indictment against the nuclear armed States and Australia. This will be released on June 12, 2016.
Written submissions by the prosecution and defence. These will be due by June 28 and will be posted on the Tribunal website the following day. The prosecution brief will include legal, rational and ethical cases against the nuclear powers. A Rational /Ethical Case document is being prepared by Peter King and John Hallam in consultation with a wide range of experts and will be circulated by June 30.
Amicus briefs. Interested organisations and qualified individuals will be able to submit amicus briefs to the Tribunal. These need to be received by July 3. Several amici curiae (friends of the court) have already been appointed to the Tribunal and those submitting briefs may also have an opportunity to participate in the proceedings.