The International Court of Justice has invited the Canadian Government to submit a brief on the subject of the legality of nuclear weapons, by 10 June 1994.
Canadian Physicians against Nuclear War, Lawyers for Social Responsibility and six other Canadian nongovernmental groups including Science for Peace, have *been supporting this international project to bring the matter of legality of use of nuclear weapons before the International Court. The objective, to establish that use of nuclear weapons would be illegal under existing treaties and conventions that govern the conduct of war, should set the stage for a reduction in the proliferation of nuclear weapon states, and will help greatly, it is felt, in applying pressure to the nuclear states to reduce and eliminate their nuclear arms. In particular, the air could be cleared for a better understanding of the goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which comes up for renewal in 1995. Needed are: A commitment on the part of nuclear weapon states to eliminate their nuclear arms according to a reasonable timetable; firm plans for the disposal of weapons-grade materials; and the placement of all such materials under international control.
None of this is new. In the 1940s already, plans to place fissile materials under international control were put forward, notwithstanding the hopelessness of the situation at that time, and the weaknesses of the proposals themselves. Today however the World Court Project, by examining the legality of use of nuclear weapons, may assist in by putting another nail in the coffin of these monstrous weapons of death.
Alan Phillips of CPPNW, and board members of Science for Peace, would have you write your Member of Parliament in Ottawa asking his or her support. What our MPs need to do is to have the Government go ahead with the requested Brief.
Here is a sample letter which Dr. Phillips has written to his member. We need scarcely say that this is a example, not a model to be slavishly followed.
Ms. Beth Phinnie, M.P. House of Commons Ottawa, ON. K1A 0A6
As a member of Parliamentarians for Global Action, I am sure you have been kept up to date on developments in the World Court Project.
I am writing to ask you to use your influence in the House of Commons and the Liberal Party, to urge the Government to accept the invitation of the Court to submit a Brief before 10 June. Naturally we hope the Canadian Brief will argue that any use of nuclear weapons is illegal under the existing treaties and Conventions that govern the conduct of war. A point I would emphasize is that a judgement by the Court that nuclear weapons could ever be leaal would make it most unlikely that the present non-nuclear nations of the world could agree to extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty when it comes up for review next year. If Canada does not submit a brief, it will appear that the Canadian Government does not care.
If you would like me to clarify any matter concerning the progress of the World Court Project to date, I shall be glad to do so.
Alan Phillips, M.D.