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INLAP TIMES

Vol 2. No.1 Spring 1996

Journal for International Law and Peace

Editors: Nick Kollerstrom and Ted Haywood

Inside this issue:

* Imminent world court nuclear Judgement

* Menwyth Hill – Major US spybase

* The latest Nuclear-Free continent

INLAP's next seven years

Barrister Charles Bidwell congratulated INLAP on its achievements to-date at a recent meeting, and urged it to look ahead for the next seven years seeking sponsorship to reach a wider audience, for which an organiser as a full-time job would be required. Solicitors who do legal aid work should be approached, he said, to persuade a trial group to give seminars and hold meetings on a regular basis within their own area on a chosen topic. A simple message of ‘Peace through the rule of Law and the duty of every citizen to promote the rule of law' would be a universal message. ‘Let us not muddy the waters by going any further', he added - ‘Expansion now' should be the keynote. ‘The Memorandum of Association, on which INLAP's charitable status is based, says: The Company is established to advance, for the benefit of the public, education in international, domestic and military systems of law and in particular those relating to the peaceful settlement of disputes, the resort to force in self-defence, and the conduct of armed conflict.'

 

Spy Base Expands

At the last York INLAP meeting, Lindis Percy described her experiences at the high-security US National Security Agency (NSA) base at Menwith Hill near Harrogate, Yorkshire. Menwith Hill is the largest US spy base in the world, and as such has expanded considerably in recent years. It intercepts telephone and other communications to and from Europe and the United States, gathering military, diplomatic and even economic intelligence, with a staff of 400. Codenamed Steeplebush and opened in 1960, it has a Circularly Disposed Antenna Array and a four-element VHF intercept antenna. The NSA is a highly clandestine organisation, sometimes referred to as ‘no such agency' and is rumoured to be larger than the CIA, with a US budget of over $10 billion a year.

Lindis has obtained documents revealing the extent of the NSA's operations, and other bases where the NSA operates: Molesworth, Lakenheath, etc. She has been arrested some 160 times and prosecuted 25 times under the Byelaws. In 1991 the then Secretary of State for Defence (Tom King) issued a Writ applying for a temporary injunction against her, plus a writ of 12,000 for ‘wasting police time.'

In 1992 she visited what is termed the ‘RAF Molesworth' base, but which is actually the Joint Analysis Center of the NSA, with Americans in firm control. She has also protested at ‘RAF Lakenheath', entering the nuclear weapons store and being escorted out as a civil trespasser. Her protests were peaceful and nonviolent. She challenged the Byelaws at the High Court in 1993, and had them declared defective. She breached the injunction preventing her from visiting the base in 1996, to bring to public attention the expansion of the base. They had proposed to construct the largest satellite dish ever, plus support buildings, security fencing etc.

She was often arrested on grounds of ‘breach of the peace', however after a peaceful protest at Alconbury she managed to get this very issue taken to the High Court (Judges Balcombe and Collins, 1994). It was there ruled that a breach of the peace only occurs if violence is threatened or committed. (Adding that the violence did not have to be perpetrated by the defendant himself; it was sufficient if his conduct was such that violence from some third party was a natural consequence of his action... ) After this, the civil police have no longer been able to use it as a catch-all remedy.

The arrival of a new base commander Colonel Carter at the Menwith Hill NSA base led to more violent tactics being used. After about twenty such incidents, the MOD told the Americans they must stop. Despite this it continued, resulting in her admission to hospital on one occasion. She has issued a writ of action claiming damages for assault and unlawful detention, against the United States Department of Defense. They are claiming immunity under the Visiting Forces Act.

The MOD took her to court in March 1995, while attempting to prevent any disclosure of the documents for the case. Lindis replied that the Secretary of State for Defence was the wrong person to sue in trespass: ‘The occupier had to sue and the occupier is the United States' she explained. Two days before the trial, the Secretary of State for Defence (Malcolm Rifkind) issued a Public Immunity Certificate which prevented Lindis from bringing her case.

After the MOD obtained a permanent injuction against her, she went to visit the US NSA base at Feltwell, Norfolk and then drove a few miles up the road to USAF Lakenheath. She parked her car by the claimed MOD land. She had to be careful not to step over a line as defined by the injunction map they had given her, forbidding her for the rest of her life to enter MOD owned land or property. She parked by a blue car recognising its owner in dark glasses as colonel Carter, and moved her car to obstruct his movements. Soon US security arrived, with flashing blue lights and with soldiers carrying guns getting out and a video camera starting to record. As colonel Carter got out she took hold of the sleeve of his jacket and informed him she was making a citizen's arrest. For half an hour he was in her custody and did not move. He sat on the grass verge while waiting for the civil police to arrive. As he waited she talked gently to him about his part in the unlawful acts over the past year to peaceful protesters. All he said was, ‘Your time is running out, Lindis.' When the police finally arrived, she was arrested for alleged criminal damage to the bonnet of his car, supposedly from when she sat upon it to prevent him moving. The case comes up on 17th June. A permanent women's peace camp runs at Menwith Hill, on the A59 near Harrogate.

 

Hammer of Justice - A British Ploughshares' Action

Angie Zelter, INLAP's secretary for many years, has been jailed for supporting this ‘ploughshares'* project. She, and three other women, Lotta Kronlid, Andrea Needham and Jo Wilson, were protesting against the export by British Aerospace of Hawk jets to Indonesia. Angie was arrested for possessing a hammer, with intention to use it against a Hawk jet.

In the early hours of January 29th, three women snipped their way through the fence of the British Aerospace factory/test site in Warton, Lancs, waited for a security patrol to pass and, in full view of closed-circuit cameras, prised open the doors of a hangar. Heading straught for Hawk jet ZH955, due to be the first of 24 Hawks destined for Indonesia later this year, the women got out their hammers and blow by blow disabled all those components and devices that were connected with weaponry. To their amazement, dents in the fuselage quickly developed into open puncture holes.

After being undetected for half an hour, they started to relax. They stuck photographs to the jet's cockpit, showing the victims of the Santa Cruz massacre in November 1991 (when Indonesian troops opened fire on a peaceful protest, killing 270 people). The women then had considerable trouble in getting themselves arrested, as nobody seemed to be noticing them. Finally they phoned the Press Association and asked them to phone security at British Aerospace.

The three women were charged with having committed 1.4 million worth of damage. Later, all four were charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage. The Warton site is where the Hawks are assembled and tested. British Aerospace is due to deliver the Hawk jets to Indonesia during 1996, a 500 million contract awarded in 1993. When the 500 million deal was signed in 1993, in defiance of ten UN resolutions, the then defence secretary Malcolm Rifkind spoke of ‘splendid news for British Aerospace and its workers,' as would enhance ‘good relations between the UK and Indonesia.' The fact that 200,000 East Timorese had been killed by the Suharto regime since 1975 was overlooked. The price of securing the deal for Britain was a 65 million aid package to Indonesia to build a power station, a project likely to speed up the deforestation of one of South-East Asia's last remaining rainforests as well as displacing more of Kalimantan's indigenous Dayak people.

.........................................................................

* The name is from the bible text, ‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares... Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Nor shall they learn war anymore: Isaiah 2,4.

Both the Government and BAe insist that the Hawk is only a ‘trainer' aircraft and is unsuitable for military purposes in East Timor. However, BAe's own marketing literature trumpets the plane's ‘significant ground attack capability.' Hawks, they say, can be tailored to carry a wide range of weapons including cluster and fire-bombs. Numerous eyewitness accounts testify the use of BAe Hawks from the 1978 deal in ground attack roles, bombing Timorese civilians, the most recent report being a sighting of Hawks over East Timor's capital Dili last November.

Angie Zelter laid an information at Norwich magistrates court, to obtain a summons for the arrest of Ian Lang, the President of the Board of Trade, for conspiring to aid and abet acts of genocide; she also attempted to obtain an injunction to stop BAe from delivering the Hawks. 52 people signed as co-informants. This laying of information on 31 January lasted two hours. On the morning of 6th February, before her arrest, she was with the Women's Negotiating Team which met with MPs and campaigning groups at Westminster, where a Declaration calling for an emergency parliamentary debate, signed by ten MPs and nine groups, was welcomed by Tony Benn and Paul Flynn MP. She then publicly stated her intention to disarm a hawk and was arrested after a journey up North by plain clothes police outside Preston Town Hall, on a charge of conspiracy to commit criminal damage. Her written statement affirmed:

‘One-third of the East Timorese population have died through the brutal actions of the Indonesian occupation. Hawks from a previous arms sale have been seen bombing villages in East Timor. I believe that the British Government and BAe are aiding and abetting genocide in East Timor by sending Hawk aircraft to Indonesia and that it is clear that they have no intention of taking responsibility for the deaths that have and will result from their arms deals...I believe my act of personal disarmament is a way to uphold international Laws, including the Genocide Act and the Geneva Conventions Act, which set out rules for the protection of innocent civilians.'

Andrea Needham, another of those arrested, said: ‘For over three years, I have been trying to stop the Hawk sales. I have written letters, held vigils, signed petitions, talked at public meetings, and asked the police to investigate British Aerospace for contravening the Genocide Act. Despite this, the sale is going ahead. I therefore feel that I have no option but to disarm these planes myself'.

The British Ploughshares movement justifies its actions under both international and domestic law as follows: Under international law we all have a duty to refuse to have any part in war crimes (Nuremberg Principle VII). And under British domestic law everybody has a right to use reasonable means, not excluding force in the prevention of a crime (Criminal Law Act, 1967, S.3).

Jo Wilson, a borough councillor in Kirkby, Merseyside, said: ‘Despite a sustained campaign, the British government and British Aerospace have refused to stop the sale. These planes will soon be killing people in East Timor unless action is taken immediately to stop them... Many children, women and men have been killed by British companies with approval and support of the British government. I am angry, ashamed and distressed by Britain's complicity'.

The Information laid before Norwich Magistrates' Court claimed that the Department of Trade and Industry had conspired with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Prime Minister's Office, the Directors of British Aerospace and the Indonesian government and military in approving this sale. To quote Angie again:

‘The Genocide Act is part of British law and it is time it was used to prevent our Government and Industry implicating ordinary British workers in the horrific killings and repression committed by the Indonesian state. British people need and want jobs but only those that are socially and ethically responsible.'

The video had been prepared by the women prior to their disarming act, and left on the pilot's seat. The women refused to give statements, insisting that the video fully represents their view, that BAe has aided and abetted the crime of genocide in East Timor. This video was used by the prosecution at the Magistrates' Court on the 19th, who called it a ‘carefully crafted piece of propaganda.' Footage of Angie Zelter's arrest has been added, on a video now available for use by peace groups and media.

A precedent was set by using this video in court. It showed the brutal massacre in East Timor by Indonesian forces in 1991, taken from the Central TV documentary ‘Death of a Nation'. The video also contains comments by the House of Commons and the Foreign Office about the Hawk deal. It ended with the plea of an East Timorese woman, ‘Please stop your commercial relations with Indonesia if you are really human.' The court remained in silence, just a few people rustling with papers. No-one dared to speak. When the magistrates finally attempted to go back to the procedures they found themselves not quite collected and announced a ten minutes adjournment. Rowan Tilly from ‘Seeds of Hope' was present and commented: ‘I believe the women's video was extremely effective in showing that these women are not criminals - they have attempted to uphold

international law'.

The trial is scheduled for July 22nd at Liverpool Crown Court. It has been booked for two weeks though it may not take that long. The women are planning a ‘Festival of Hope' in Liverpool sometime this summer, and sentences could be up to five years. British Aerospace estimated the damage at 2 million, however the Indonesian government have declined to purchase the repaired Hawk, which was originally worth 13 million.

Ten MPs have signed a declaration opposing this sale. Early Day motions 413 and 436 call for cancellation of the deal and for the Scott Inquiry team to investigate the role of the British government in allowing sales which are contrary to national and international guidelines.

Merseyside Peace Council is setting up a tribunal over the legality of the UK's policy, and INLAP is assisting over its structure. This is the 56th Ploughshares action worldwide, the 3rd in Britain, and the first all-woman one. The Ploughshares movement was started in 1980 in America, when eight people disarmed two nuclear warheads in Pennsylvania. Ploughshares action are characterised by thorough preparation, nonviolence, direct disarmament of weapons components with hand tools - usually hammers - and by participants taking full and open responsibility for their actions. Consequently, they often result in imprisonment. The European Ploughshares movement began in 1983, when four disarmers disabled a Pershing II transporter truck. In 1990, Stephen Hancock and Mike Hutchinson broke into USAF Upper Heyford and disarmed a F-111 with hammers: ‘I was shaking with fear' admitted Hancock.

Three years later, Chris Cole was arrested at BAe's Stevenage site for causing 90,000 damage to planes. In the first of two trials, Cole affirmed his right to use force in the prevention of a crime, as he claimed was enshrined in the Criminal Law Act (1967). The judge Stephen Sedley instructed the jury to use their conscience, commonsense and common humanity in reaching a verdict, adding ‘If what Mr Cole says is happening in East Timor, it may amount to genocide, which is a crime under British and international law.' There was a hung jury and, for a time, a moral chink appeared in BAe's armour. But Cole eventually received eight months imprisonment. In 16 years, Ploughshares activists have hammered over 4 million worth of ‘swords into ploughshares' - and recieved a total of 156 years in prison.

The booklet Seeds of Hope, East Timor Ploughshares, Women disarming for Life & Justice, a copy of which the women left on the disarmed Hawk, is available from Seeds of Hope, 55 Queen Margaret's Grove, London N1 4PZ (50 pages, donation requested; a video is also available. A wider significance of the ‘new Luddites' is evaluated in Kirkpatrick Sale's new book, Rebels Against the Future. Sale argues that the New Luddites aim to establish whether machinery is for the ‘common good' and to reclaim democratic control over science and technology. (Source: Guardian 28 Feb, Neil Godwin)

 

Abolition 2000 Campaign: INLAP and WCP representatives were present at the inaugural meeting in November 1995 at the Hague. The aim of this campaign is for a Nuclear Weapons Convention analogous to the Chemical Weapons Convention to be in place by 2000. The first few aims of the Campaign are:

* Negotiations for NWC to start in 1996 and be completed by 2000;

* Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by 1996

* No Use Pledge (not merely No First Use) by 1997.

So far around 250 groups have signed on as endorsing organisations (UK rep. Janet Bloomfield, CND)

 

On the Brink of a Test Ban?

In May 1995 the five declared nuclear powers committed themselves to complete a CTBT ‘no later than 1996' and to exercise ‘utmost restraint' pending its entry into force. The other nations agreed to the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in return for this commitment. This year, a 38-nations UN Conference on Disarmament is attempting to achieve this.

China is the only county out of 186 UN member states which did not agree to last years's UN General Assembly resolution to sign the treaty in 1996. It may have plans for two more nuclear tests this year. China is holding out on its right to ‘peaceful nuclear explosions', which if allowed would ‘keep the nuclear weapons labs alive' (Rebecca Johnson) and thereby alter the character of the treaty. Regrettably India is insisting on linking the test ban with a timetable for complete nuclear disarmament, which the US has refused to accept. Joseph Rotblat, 1995 Nobel Peace Prize winner, wrote on behalf of Pugwash to the Indian Prime Minister urging India to reconsider its position, saying :‘it fills us with dismay.'

There is the problem of thermonuclear ‘micro-nukes' which are very small nuclear devices (‘hydronuclear experiments'), presently under development. Their explosion is subcritical, enabling scientists to argue that they are similar to normal nuclear fission. The US announced a new series of 6 ‘zero yield' hydronuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site in 1996, but in response to public pressure has deferred these so as not to jeapordise the CTBT. Still, this decision will weaken the momentum towards achieving a CTBT. Comment, on hydro-nuclear laboratory tests: ‘If we go into that issue, if we try and solve that issue, the question of verification will be incredibly complicated to solve. We should stick to what we have been asked to do, which is basically to ban a nuclear test explosion. As far as the CTBT is concerned, we should try now to clean up the text. We should try to keep it simple and identify those questions which could be resolved during the years between the signature and the entry into force. ' (Disarmament, UN 1995 MM Bosch p25)

A threshold of 500 tons may be agreed upon. (See Comprehenive Test Ban Treaty: Now or Never Acronym 8 by Rebecca Johnson) An Australian text is providing a basis for agreement, though the ‘rolling text' being circulated around the 37 member states presently covers 100 pages. Rebecca Johnson wrote: ‘a ban on all nuclear explosions is a measure desired by people all over the world, including majorities in nuclear weapons states', adding that, if the opportunity of 1996 slips by, ‘the political window of opportunity could slam shut once more,' sending ‘the worst kind of signal to an unstable world.'

The US and other Western states have repeatedly charged that Iran has a secret plan to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran has repeatedly denied. IAEA inspections have not found any confirmatory evidence of the charges, and Russia and China continue to export nuclear-related technology and equipment to Iran. Israel, which has refused to sign the NPT, is believed to have 200-300 nuclear weapons.

Editorial comment: India's request for a time-bound commitment to total nuclear disarmament, though inappropriate within a CTBT, is just what the Abolition 2000 Caucus seeks to obtain an agreement upon by the year 2000. Let us hope it will come to separate out this worthy aim from the unique chance to achieve a CTBT, and support the Abolition 2000 campaign as well.

 

Treaty of Pelindaba

The Organisation of African Unity had mooted the idea of a nuclear-weapons free Africa as early as 1964, but for long it was blocked by the South African nuclear weapons program. South Africa admitted to having manufactured six nuclear weapons, which it destroyed under President DeKlerk, becoming a party to the Non Proliferation Treaty in 1991. A text for a Treaty making Africa nuclear-free was submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in October 1995. A new Nuclear-free continent was formally established in Cairo this April, emulating the Treaty of Tlatelolco whereby South America became a nuclear weapons-free zone. It permits nuclear power but not weapons, so that it contains a permitted threshold value for isotopic purity of uranium and plutonium - in contrast with New Zealand's nuclear-free Act which forbids both nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

Some doubts have been expressed as to whether South Africa really did scrap its nuclear capability in 1993 (The Micro-nukes conspiracy-Mandela's nuclear nightmare Hounam & McQuillan 1995). To quote Colin Archer (IPB Secretary-General):

‘It would appear that S.Africa had a far more advanced nuclear weapons program than it admitted. With help from the Israelis and others, it manufactured thermonuclear weapons...What is extraordinary is the almost complete silence of the media (even arms control publications) on the subject of these sensational allegations and their implications... Certainly key sections of the arms business will play down this information, since it is political dynamite'. These claims have been rejected by Mandela. (BAN, Feb 1996)

In April of this year, a message of congratulation to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was sent by the World Court Project (aka George Farebrother), saying: ‘To all of us working for a nuclear-free world, the Pelindaba Treaty is a cause for celebration. With nearly all states in the Southern Hemisphere now covered by nuclear weapon-free treaties, and a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty signed on 15 December 1995, it is most encouraging evidence that a growing majority of states wish to dissociate themselves from nuclear weapons as an option in their security policies.'

A South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone Treaty had been signed in December 1995 at a summit meeting of ASEAN at Bangkok, bringing the total of nuclear-weapons free zones around the world to four. (Source: WCP newsletter)

 

Anti-Nuke Challenge Down Under

Barrister Len Lindon has had his writ of legal proceedings against Australia's nuclear weapons policies accepted by the High Court of Australia, in Melbourne. His writ against the Federal government seeks endorsement of a declaration that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is illegal under domestic and international laws. He said that his government's policy to export uranium to France and to allow US bases at Pine Gap and Nurrungar to be used for the ‘nuclear targeting of civilian populations' was inconsistent with Australia's international anti-nuclear stance. ‘Whatever the Anzus treaty or the Pine Gap agreements between the USA and Australia say, the fact is that both the USA and our own Government seem to be in breach of both customary international law and our own laws too... Commonwealth Parliament legislations such as the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Act 1986, the Nuclear Safeguards (non-proliferation) Act 1987 and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995 overrides any non-statutory treaty.' This acceptance comes as a result of nine years of struggle for Mr Lindon.

 

Nukes in Falkands War

HMS Sheffield was sunk during the Falklands war in May 1982. Statements by Tam Dalyell and others that it was carrying nuclear weapons were never confirmed. A document prepared by the International Atomic Energy Authority was presented to the government in 1991, but remained classified until May 1996. MP Mr Foulkes placed a copy in the House of Commons library. It reports that HMS Sheffield was sunk in the South Atlantic with ‘nuclear weapons' on board. It was carrying two WE-177 nuclear depth bombs.

Tam Dalyell, asked to comment, said ‘At last the truth may be coming out. I have never had any doubt that that the Sheffield had gone down with nuclear depth charges.' This clearly showed that the UK had violated the Treaty of Tlatelolco, to which it was a signatory, which is the nuclear weapons-free treaty of South America. ‘It is quite a revelation that nuclear weapons were taken into a war zone' commented Greenpeace.

Asked to comment, a MOD spokeman maintained that British forces had ‘never lost a nuclear weapon' but would not comment on whether HMS Sheffield was carrying any. The UK Government has always claimed to have followed ‘scrupulously' the Treaty of Tlatelolco during the Falklands War. (Source: The Scotsman, 14 May)

 

A Peace Prize for Rotblat

In 1944, the first atomic bomb was under construction under the top-secret Manhattan Project, when clear information was received that the Germans were not, after all, constructing the bomb. They did not have the secret of atomic fission. This had been the whole rationale of the Manhatten Project. All that happened however was that the enemy image altered with Russia instead of Germany as the enemy. There were no mass resignations, in fact only one person resigned: Joseph Rotblat, the Polish-born British experimental physicist. He was soon damned as a Soviet sympathiser and banned from re-entry into the US until the mid-1960s. He went on to found Pugwash in 1957 which brought together scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain to work for nuclear disarmament.

This year, the International Peace Bureau proposed Rotblat for the Nobel Peace Prize. ‘As it is 50 years since nuclear weapons were first used, this award is particularly timely' remarked the IPB President. Half of this million-dollar award will go to Pugwash. In his speech accepting the award, Rotblat said:

‘There is no direct evidence that nuclear weapons prevented a world war... Tens of millions have died in the many wars that have taken place since 1945. In a number of them nuclear states were directly involved. In two they were actually defeated. Having nuclear weapons was of no use to them... the only function of nuclear weapons, while they exist, is to deter a nuclear attack. All nuclear weapon states should now recognise that this is so, and declare - in treaty form - that they will never be the first to use nuclear weapons. This would open the way to the gradual, mutual reduction of nuclear arsenals, down to zero. It would also open the way for a Nuclear Weapons Convention...we will need to work out the necessary verification system.'

Rotblat placed the primary responsibility for the nuclear arms race upon the scientists in their laboratories - the necro-technocrats - supporting the view of Lord Zuckermann: ‘When it comes to nuclear weapons ... it is the man in the laboratory who at the start proposes that for this or that arcane reason it would be useful to improve an old or to devise a new nuclear warhead. It is he, the technician, not the commander in the field, who is at the heart of the arms race.'

The time had come, he said, for a voluntary ethical code that scientists would sign, perhaps in the form of a Hippocratic oath, pledging not to work improving weapons of destruction. (Source: Pugwash Newsletter, January 1966)

 

The Pax Legalis Papers, some reviews (written by Rob Manson, INLAP 1995, available from David Head for 12, address at back of Journal).

A review in Conscience, (Newsletter of the Peace Tax Campaign, Spring '96) by Emily Driver a barrister. While finding it ‘essential reading for activist pacifists', she added: ‘Because Manson's book encompasses such a wealth of learned and closely argued research, it can be a difficult and academic read. I felt that it had not made up its mind whether it was a history of Pax Legalis' past works, a set of current legal pleadings, or an advisory tract setting out guidelines for future prosecutors. Maybe I was somewhat thrown off by the multiplicity of forewords and introductions, none of which fully told the reader what Pax Legalis was, what it had tried to do, why, and who was to blame for obstructing it. However there is a chronology at the back. The book is divided into sections of the group's action papers, criminal law, constitutional law, and notes on the Pax Legalis case itself.'

A review by Lord Archer of Sandwell QC found that ‘Mr Manson's industry, erudition and clarity are a model of their kind,' in a review for World Disarm, journal of the World Disarmament Campaign, but went on to doubt whether litigation was an appropriate way to change a publicly known government policy.

A review by Ronnie Landau in Judaism Today (Winter 1995/6) found that ‘This is the first coherent and sustained legal critique of nuclear defence policy under the law of the United Kingdom...In seeking to establish the illegality of nuclear weapons, not only in international law but in our domestic courts, bound as they are by common law and by international statutes such as the Geneva and United Nations Genocide Conventions, he invokes no fewer than 42 Acts of Parliament, as many intenational conventions, and 126 cases in British and Commonwealth law reports.... This work is, above all perhaps, an attack on the high-walled bunker mentality of much of our legal establishment. That it uses the very language of that world, some of it frankly a trifle inaccessible to this lay reviewer, in order to subvert it, seems entirely satisfying. A highly original and trailblazing work, this deserves to be read by more people than I suspect its superficial appearance of a legal text will encourage.'

Editorial comment: Reviewers have not commented on the possible relevance to the legal arguments of the detargeting of strategic nuclear weapons in 1994, so they no longer point at cities but only at the Atlantic ocean. Have major planks of the Pax Legalis argument thereby become inoperative? Can the ‘threat to kill' charge still be maintained? Can it still be argued that Nuremberg-type ‘crimes against peace' are being plotted? Trident may be out there to deter the penguins in Antartica as far as what could be established in a lawcourt is concerned. The world has taken a major step away from the clutches of MADness, and let us be careful not to live in the past. Let us hear some discussion on this matter.

 

The ICJ on film

There was only one filmcrew in the International Court of Justice during the hearings of the UN and WHO questions, that of Kevin Sanders. Sanders commented, ‘Many of the 25 nations making presentations described the hearings as the most important in the history of the Court. Malaysia said the judges were being called on as the "wise elders of the human tribe" to render a "uniquely spiritual judgement to save humanity from annihilation.' Despite the momentous significance of the event - or perhaps, because of it - the hearings were entirely ignored by the world's mainstream media. Throughout the hearings the only national and international broadcast reports on the proceedings have been radio reports I did for Pacifica Radio for Peace International'

World Court News, Dec 1995.

Sanders' films of the Hague hearings of the UN/WHO questions were subsequently purchased by US Court TV, and have now been shown over 18 hours of US viewing time. The Court TV showings featured top international law experts discussing the proceedings. A copy was sent to New Zealand, and then via Rob Green ended up in the hands of Scottish INLAP member Christine Soane.

Christine Soane is selling a four-hour tape of the last two days of the hearings, featuring the UK, the US, Solomon Islands, Zimbabwe and Pacific Islands. She has already sold ten copies to universities. LSE (previous intellectual home of Rosalind Higgins, the British judge) requested all 18 hours, for student use. A shortened half-hour version has been made by Fred Starkey, and CND is becoming interested in this. Let us hope schools soon start to request this shortened version. Including postage, the 4-hour version costs 15 and the shortened version 5*. They come complete with speaker's notes. Along with such orders, why not also order a dozen copies of ‘Going to Court not war, An Introduction to the International court of Justice' Soane & Norris only 50p each (20 pages) as an invaluable non-confrontational document to hand around.

* orders from Christine Soane, Easter Howgate, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland EH26 0PE, or from Dave Andrews, Welsh CND Secretary, 31 Acton Road, Wrexham, Wales LL11 2NA, or from the UK's World Court Project..

 

ICJ Going broke?

The International Court of Justice at the Hague has sacked its typing pool and lost its Information Officer, and no longer has an adequate translation staff. This dire turn of events was revealed by Sir Robert Jennings, the former Court President, at an Edinburgh conference of international lawyers in May. He warned that ‘The Court is being shut down by cuts' and appealed for it to ‘be protected at this decisive moment for this precious creation,' a remarkable phrase. He objected when newspapers quoted this as merely, ‘The Court in being shut down.' The New Zealand Press has quoted Katie Dewes that the court is a victim of a financial squeeze being applied by the US. This has caused delays in reaching a verdict. The ICJ is funded by the UN, said to be near-bankrupt at present. It is a situation where concerned nations and/or voluntary organisations cannot assist the Court, as this would appear partisan.

We wish all our readers a memorable Judgement Day, as may come soon. Quakers have been setting up a phone-tree for the event, as will include Quaker pupils and teachers requesting to their school that the ICJ verdict be announced on the day after.

 

Quotes

At an anniversary address to the Royal Society its President Sir Michael Atiyah affirmed that: ‘I believe history will show that the insistency on a UK nuclear capability was fundamentally misguided, a total waste of resources and a significant factor in our relative economic decline over the past 50 years.’ (30th November 1995).

At the 1995 Pugwash conference, held over the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima, 88-year old Professor Hans Bethe, a top nuclear physicist who worked at Los Alamos to produce the first atomic weapons, appealed to all military R&D workers in the following words: ‘I call on all scientists in all counties to cease and desist from work creating, developing, improving and manufacturing further nuclear weapons - and, for that matter, other weapons of potential mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons.’

 

Francesco Calogero, at the 1995 Pugwash meeting: ‘Maybe a bit of ridicule about the role of nuclear wepons is well in order; and I see no better way of doing so than by pointing out the anachronistic absurdity of the preservation of nuclear arsenals by countries such as France and Great Briain which happen to be situated in a part of the world where the outbreak of a military conflict requiring such weaponry is now, fortunately, most unlikely. How can anybody pretend to be taken seriously while clinging to such weapons under such circumstances, while at the same time trying to convince the rest of the world that the diffusion of nuclear weaponry is dangerous and unwise?’

 

John Pilger, in New Statesmen: ‘The World Court Project's achievement can best be measured by the panic among the principal nuclear powers, especially Britain and France, which justify their seats on the Security Council by their membership of the nuclear club. In their arguments before the Court of 30th October, both governments admitted they had made a secret agreement to strike first with a nuclear ‘warning shot' should their ‘vital interests' be threatened. The reason for the French tests in the Pacific is to refine a ‘low yield' weapon specially for this use...’ (17 Nov 1995).

 

Rodrigo Enriquez, concluding Ecuador's written submission to the UN Question, to His Excellency Mohammed Bedajoui, President of the ICJ: ‘A judicial pronouncement over the illegality of nuclear weapons would be a transcendental fact and highly estimable: it has been historically demonstrated that judicial stipulations, apparently utopian, in their own way and not with a little trouble, have contributed in forging the human conscience of the nations and contributing a universal spirit of solidarity, pacifist and co-operative. ‘

 

Institute for Law and Peace.  Company No. 2526884. Charity No. 1000444. This page   last updated 29 August 2004.