Over the past five years, the international community has devoted attention to the humanitarian, environmental, and developmental consequences of nuclear weapons detonations.
The Use of Force
Conduct of Hostilities
2. “Pledge Presented at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons by Austrian Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Linhart,” n.d., http://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-foreign-policy/disarmament/weapons-of-mass-destruction/nuclear-weapons-and-nuclear-terrorism/vienna-conference-on-the-humanitarian-impact-of-nuclear-weapons/chairs-summary/.
3. See Frank A. Rose, opening statement to the 2015 UN General Assembly First Committee, October 12, 2015, http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com15/statements/12October_USA.pdf.
5. For a more detailed treatment of the legal issues addressed in this article, see Gro Nystuen, Stuart Casey-Maslen, and Annie Golden Bersagel, eds., Nuclear Weapons Under International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
6. International Court of Justice, “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” July 8, 1996, para. 105(2)(E), http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/95/7495.pdf.
7. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977; Protection of the Civilian Population,” n.d., art. 51(4)(c), https://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=4BEBD9920AE0AEAEC12563CD0051DC9E.
9. Stephen M. Schwebel, dissenting opinion in “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” July 8, 1996, p. 98, http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/95/7515.pdf.
10. ICRC, “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977; Precautions in Attack,” n.d., art. 57(1), https://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=50FB5579FB098FAAC12563CD0051DD7C.
12. ICRC, “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977; Commentary of 1987, Precautions in Attack,” n.d., para. 2201, https://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Comment.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=D80D14D84BF36B92C12563CD00434FBD.
14. See ICRC, “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977; Basic Rules,” n.d., art. 35(3), https://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=0DF4B935977689E8C12563CD0051DAE4; J.M. Henckaerts, “Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law: A Contribution to the Understanding and Respect for the Rule of Law in Armed Conflict,” International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 87, No. 857 (2005): 191.
15. Of the nuclear-armed states, China, North Korea, and Russia are parties to Additional Protocol I without reservations regarding its application to nuclear weapons. France and the United Kingdom are parties but with reservations on its application to nuclear weapons. The rest of the nuclear-armed states—India, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States—are not parties.
16. ICRC, “Nuclear Weapons: Ending a Threat to Humanity,” February 18, 2015, https://www.icrc.org/en/document/nuclear-weapons-ending-threat-humanity (speech by Peter Maurer).
19. Charles Flanagan, Statement of Ireland to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, April 27, 2015, http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/revcon2015/statements/27April_Ireland.pdf.
22. Nick Ritchie, “Trident: The Deal Isn’t Done,” Bradford Disarmament Research Centre, December 2007, p. 11, note 38, http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/bdrc/nuclear/trident/trident_deal_isnt_done.pdf.
23. The text of the Biological Weapons Convention does not explicitly mention use of biological weapons, but the states-parties have agreed that the treaty shall be interpreted to include a prohibition on use. See Seventh Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, “Final Document of the Seventh Review Conference,” BWC/CONF.VII/7, January 13, 2012, art. IV(16) (states-parties reaffirming that “under any circumstances the use, development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited under Article I of the Convention”).
24. See Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, “Implementation of the Conclusions and Recommendations for Follow-on Actions Adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference Disarmament: Actions 1-22,” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, April 2015, p. 2, https://www.nonproliferation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/150415_cns_monitoring_report.pdf; Jayantha Dhanapala and Sergio Duarte, “Is There a Future for the NPT?” Arms Control Today, July/August 2015; Reaching Critical Will, “The NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report,” March 2015, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Publications/2010-Action-Plan/NPT_Action_Plan_2015.pdf.
25. Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo, Statement of Mexico to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, April 27, 2015, http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/revcon2015/statements/27April_Mexico.pdf.
26. Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, Statement of South Africa to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, April 29, 2015, http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/revcon2015/statements/29April_SouthAfrica.pdf.
29. For more on these approaches, see International Law and Policy Institute and UN Institute for Disarmament Research, “A Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Issues,” February 2016, http://unidir.ilpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ILPI-UNIDIR-prohibition-study-PRINT.pdf.
Gro Nystuen is director of the Center for International Humanitarian Law at the International Law and Policy Institute in Oslo. Kjølv Egeland is an adviser at the center and a doctoral candidate in international relations at the University of Oxford, Wadham College.