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The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: A Further Confirmation of the Human- and Victim-Centred Trend in Arms Control Law

Abstract

It is not exaggerated to consider the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted on 7 July 2017, a paradigm shift in arms control law. The reasons for this suggestion not only lies in the fact that it is the first potentially universal treaty dealing with nuclear weapons that has been adopted since the 1997 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but even more in its nature and logic that are deeply inspired by humanitarian principles, aiming at protecting the human being and future generations, much more than States’ security. It therefore follows the path of the 1996 Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines and the 2008 Oslo Convention on cluster munitions. The author will demonstrate the human- and victim-centred approach of the TPNW based on several elements, namely the preparatory work leading to the new treaty, the preamble expressing its object and purpose, the prohibition of use of nuclear weapons, the duty to assist victims of use and testing of nuclear weapons and the duty to provide for environmental remediation. In the section dealing with the prohibition on use of nuclear weapons, one of the key clauses of the new treaty, the legality of such use will be assessed under international humanitarian law and human rights law. More than previous authors having conducted research in this field, the author pays due attention to the relevant human rights law, a body of law that offers, from his point of view, certain advantages for victims of nuclear weapons by, inter alia, establishing specialized courts and by singling out particularly vulnerable groups of people, such as women, children and indigenous peoples.

Keywords

  • International humanitarian law
  • human rights law
  • Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
  • preamble
  • victim assistance
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Use of Nuclear Weapons
  • Testing of Nuclear Weapons
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines
  • Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions

Ph.D. (University of Lausanne), Master of international relations (Geneva Institute of International and Development Studies (IUHEID), member of the ILA Committee on nuclear weapons, non-proliferation and contemporary international law, lecturer of international law at the University of Lausanne and adjunct professor of human rights law at Suffolk University Law School (Boston, MA).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    According to its Article 15 § 1, the TPNW will enter into force 90 days after the 50th ratification.

  2. 2.

    See Chap. 18 of this Volume.

  3. 3.

    Article 1(d) of the TPNW.

  4. 4.

    Article 6, para 1 of the TPNW.

  5. 5.

    Rietiker 2017a, p. 123.

  6. 6.

    Sauer and Pretorius 2014, p. 239.

  7. 7.

    Resolution adopted on 24 November 1961 (by 55 votes to 20, with 26 abstentions), paras 1(b) and (d).

  8. 8.

    UNGA, Official Records, Tenth Special Session Supplement No. 4 (A/S-10/4), p. 4, para 11.

  9. 9.

    Annan 2005.

  10. 10.

    https://www.armscontrol.org/ObamaPragueSpeech.

  11. 11.

    2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Doc. NPT/CONF.2010/50 (vol. I), 2010, part I, p. 19.

  12. 12.

    Kellenberger 2010.

  13. 13.

    Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Disarmament, NPT Preparatory Committee, General Debate, Vienna, 2 May 2012.

  14. 14.

    See, for instance, Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Delivered by Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, Geneva, 24 April 2013.

  15. 15.

    Nystuen and Egeland 2016, p. 8.

  16. 16.

    Sauer and Pretorius 2014, pp. 242–243.

  17. 17.

    Rietiker 2017a, p. 151.

  18. 18.

    Sauer and Pretorius 2014, p. 242.

  19. 19.

    See for the entire pledge: http://www.icanw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/HINW14vienna_Pledge_Document.pdf.

  20. 20.

    UNGA Resolution 65/56 (UN Doc. A/RES/67/5), 4 January 2013, Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

  21. 21.

    UNGA Resolution 70/33, Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, adopted on 7 December 2015.

  22. 22.

    Brehm 2016.

  23. 23.

    Resolution A/C.1/71/L.41.

  24. 24.

    Brehm 2016.

  25. 25.

    Final report of the OEWG, Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, UN Doc. A/71/371, 1 September 2016, § 36.

  26. 26.

    Ibid.

  27. 27.

    According to Article 31 § 1 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which is regarded as the general rule of treaty interpretation, a “treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose.” See also Suy 1999; and Meyn 1997.

  28. 28.

    Preambular para 2.

  29. 29.

    For a discussion of the legality in international law of such weapons, see among others, Bengs 2008; Moxley et al. 2011; and Nelson 2002.

  30. 30.

    Preambular paras 2 and 3.

  31. 31.

    Preambular para 4.

  32. 32.

    ICJ Reports 1996, para 35. See also Brown Weiss 1999.

  33. 33.

    Borrie and Caughley 2014, p. 44.

  34. 34.

    See, inter alia, Xia and Robock 2013, pp. 357–372.

  35. 35.

    Borrie and Caughley 2014, p. 43.

  36. 36.

    Preambular para 5.

  37. 37.

    See for instance concerning this treaty Kierulf 2017, pp. 150–152.

  38. 38.

    Moon Treaty, Article 4, para 1. See, for the special status of this treaty, Wolter 2003, in particular pp. 195 et seq.

  39. 39.

    Article 1, para 1 of the Outer Space Treaty.

  40. 40.

    Preambular para 2 of the Outer Space Treaty. See, for the special status of this treaty, Barnes 2000, in particular p. 129; and Cançado Trindade 2005, p. 368.

  41. 41.

    Article 21 § 1 of the Oslo Convention.

  42. 42.

    See the case of Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company Ltd (Second Phase), Belgium v. Spain, ICJ Reports 1970: ‘33. In particular, an essential distinction should be drawn between the obligations of a state towards the international community as a whole, and those arising vis-à-vis another State in the field of diplomatic protection. By their very nature the former are the concern of all States. In view of the importance of the rights involved, all States can be held to have a legal interest in their protection; they are obligations erga omens. 34. Such obligations derive, for example, in contemporary international law, from the outlawing of acts of aggression, and of genocide, as also from the principles and rules concerning the basic rights of human person, including protection from slavery and racial discrimination.’

  43. 43.

    See, for more details, Rietiker 2017b.

  44. 44.

    Preambular paras 4, 7 and 8.

  45. 45.

    See, for instance, Bauer et al. 2005; Peterson 1993; and Georgescu 2012.

  46. 46.

    Preambular para 9.

  47. 47.

    See for more details on common Article 1, Boisson de Chazournes and Condorelli 2000; and Dörmann and Serralvo 2014.

  48. 48.

    Paragraph 10 of the preamble.

  49. 49.

    See the last preambular para of both the Ottawa and Oslo Conventions.

  50. 50.

    Paragraph 10 of the preamble.

  51. 51.

    Paragraph 11 of the preamble.

  52. 52.

    Paragraph 11 of the preamble.

  53. 53.

    ICJ Reports 1996, para 78.

  54. 54.

    Rietiker 2017a, p. 147.

  55. 55.

    Preambular paras 22–23.

  56. 56.

    Ottawa Convention, preambular paragraph 8, and Oslo Convention, preambular para 17. For the role of civil society in the negotiation and adoption of those treaties, see Rutherford 2011; and Breitegger 2012, pp. 134–177.

  57. 57.

    See, for an overview, Burroughs 2017, pp. 6–13.

  58. 58.

    See, mutatis mutandis, UNSC Resolution 2118(2013) of 27 September 2013 concerning the situation in Syria, where the Council “…condemn[ed] in the strongest terms any use of chemical weapons…” (operative paragraph, emphasis added).

  59. 59.

    ICJ Reports 1996, para 42, and operative paragraph D. See, for the relationship between jus ad bellum and jus in bello concerning nuclear weapons, Greenwood 1999; Müllerson 1999; Gardam 1999; and Moussa 2014; and for the legality of use and threat of use of nuclear weapons under jus ad bellum, Hayashi 2014a; and Hayashi 2014b.

  60. 60.

    Ibid., para 78.

  61. 61.

    Ibid., para 79. Moreover, its judgment of 9 April 1949 in the Corfu Channel case (ICJ Reports 1949, p. 22), the Court referred already to ‘elementary considerations of humanity’.

  62. 62.

    Dispositif, para E, first para.

  63. 63.

    Operative para E, second alinea. See also Kohen 1999, pp. 293–314.

  64. 64.

    Operative para E.

  65. 65.

    Article 36 2013, p. 14.

  66. 66.

    Bugnion 2005, p. 513.

  67. 67.

    See above, 2.

  68. 68.

    Eide 2013.

  69. 69.

    Ruff 2013, p. 23. See also Borrie and Caughley 2014, p. 76.

  70. 70.

    Ibid.

  71. 71.

    Ibid.

  72. 72.

    Ibid., p. 24. See also Borrie and Caughley 2014, p. 76.

  73. 73.

    Ibid., p. 23.

  74. 74.

    International Committee of Experts in Medical Sciences and Public Health and World Health Organization, Effects of Nuclear War on Health and Health Services, Report of the International Committee of Experts in Medical Sciences and Public Health to Implement Resolution WHA34.38 (1984), Geneva, Albany (NY), WHO Publications Center.

  75. 75.

    Above, 3.

  76. 76.

    See for more details, Rietiker 2017a, pp. 166–173.

  77. 77.

    See, in this sense, North Sea Continental Shelf Cases (Germany v. Denmark; Germany v. Netherlands), Judgment, ICJ Reports 1969, para 72, and Asylum Case (Colombia v. Peru), Judgment, ICJ Reports 1950, pp. 277–78. See also, for the question of legality of nuclear weapons under international humanitarian law, Casey-Maslen 2014a; Casey-Maslen 2014b; O’Connor 2014; and Nystuen 2014.

  78. 78.

    The author has listed other positive aspects of human rights law that might turn out relevant in the field of nuclear weapons, namely the applicability of human rights in all circumstances, the existence of certain “positive” obligations and the particular nature of certain human rights (jus cogens) and obligations (erga omnes) (Rietiker 2017a, pp. 173–176).

  79. 79.

    ICJ Reports 1996, para 25.

  80. 80.

    Article 15, para 2 ECHR.

  81. 81.

    See, in this sense, Doswald-Beck 2014, pp. 451–2.

  82. 82.

    ECtHR, Khamzayev and Others v. Russia, no. 1503/02, para 180; see also Ergi v. Turkey, 28 July 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-IV and Isayeva v. Russia, no. 57950/00.

  83. 83.

    Khamzayev and Others v. Russia, para 189.

  84. 84.

    See above, 4.1.

  85. 85.

    ECtHR, Varnava and Others v. Turkey, nos. 16064/90 et al., paras 185–186. See also ECtHR, Ahmet Özkan and Others v. Turkey, no. 21689/93, §§ 307 et seq.

  86. 86.

    GC no. 14, para 7. Cf. Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, ICJ Reports 1996 ICJ, paras 226, 267.

  87. 87.

    Concluding Observations: France (2015), para 21.

  88. 88.

    The legal basis for this prohibition are found, inter alia, in Article 7 ICCPR or Article 3 ECHR.

  89. 89.

    These rights are protected, inter alia, by Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence) and 1 of Protocol no. 1 (right to property) of the ECHR.

  90. 90.

    See above, 3.

  91. 91.

    E/C.12/2000/4, para 34.

  92. 92.

    E/C.12/2002/11, para 3.

  93. 93.

    See also Article 15, in particular its letter (a), of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

  94. 94.

    See also Committee of the rights of the child, GC no. 15 (2003) on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (Article 24), CRC/C/GC/15, para 48.

  95. 95.

    Centre for Minority Rights Development (Kenya and Minority Rights Group/Kenya), no. 276/2003.

  96. 96.

    Sudan Human Rights Organization and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions v. The Sudan, nos. 279/03 and 296/05.

  97. 97.

    Tatar v. Romania, no. 67021/01, January 27, 2009.

  98. 98.

    Dubetska and Others v. Ukraine, no. 30499/03, February 10, 2011.

  99. 99.

    Ibid., para 21.

  100. 100.

    Levy Guyer 2001, p. 1373.

  101. 101.

    Kellman 2009.

  102. 102.

    Pevec 2006, p. 221.

  103. 103.

    Georgescu 2012, para 28.

  104. 104.

    Ibid.

  105. 105.

    See, for victim assistance in the Oslo Convention, Breitegger 2012, pp. 198–203; Hulme 2009, pp. 224 et seq.; and Di Ruzza 2008, p. 431.

  106. 106.

    In accordance with Article 2, para 1 of the Oslo Convention, the term ‘cluster munition victims’ covers ‘all persons who have been killed or suffered physical or psychological injury, economic loss, social marginalisation or substantial impairment of the realisation of their rights caused by the use of cluster munitions. They include those persons directly impacted by cluster munitions as well as their affected families and communities’.

  107. 107.

    Article 28 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT).

  108. 108.

    The Compact of Free Association, US-Marsh. Is., June 25, 1983, 99 Stat. 1770 (1986). The agreement was amended on April 30, 2003, but Section 177 and its subsidiary agreement remained unchanged.

  109. 109.

    Agreement between the Government of the United States and the Government of the Marshall Islands for the Implementation of Section 177 of the Compact of Free Association, preamble.

  110. 110.

    IACtHR, Case of Xákmok Kásek Indigenous Community v. Paraguay, Judgment of August 24, 2010, Series C no. 214, para 174. See also IACtHR, Yakye Axa v. Paraguay, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, IACtHR, Series C no. 125, para 135.

  111. 111.

    In the Matter of the People of Enewetak, et al., NCT No. 23-0902.

  112. 112.

    Georgescu 2012, para 26.

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Rietiker, D. (2019). The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: A Further Confirmation of the Human- and Victim-Centred Trend in Arms Control Law. In: Black-Branch, J., Fleck, D. (eds) Nuclear Non-Proliferation in International Law - Volume IV. T.M.C. Asser Press, The Hague. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6265-267-5_15

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6265-267-5_15

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