Evidence, Commentary, and Judgment

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Appendix D
Interim Declaration

This Appendix presents the Interim Declaration which was issued by the Members of the Tribunal on the last day of hearings at the London Nuclear Warfare Tribunal.

Interim Declaration
of the
London Nuclear Warfare Tribunal
6th January 1985

After listening to expert testimony for the past four days and considering very extensive written submissions, the London Nuclear Warfare Tribunal issues this Interim Declaration of its main conclusions and recommendations. A reasoned Judgment will be prepared and published in due course. The Tribunal also plans to publish a volume that will contain the evidence and the main documentation on which the Judgment was based.

The Tribunal has been organized and arranged by the British group, Lawyers for Nuclear Disarmament, together with the following supporting organizations: Architects for Peace; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Ecology Party; Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers; Journalists Against Nuclear Extermination; Medical Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons; National Peace Council; National Union of Public Employees; Scientists Against Nuclear Arms; Scottish Lawyers for Nuclear Disarmament; Society of Friends (Quakers); Teachers for Peace; United Nations Association.

It has been from start to finish a private initiative, operating with complete political independence, and without influence from any government. The organizers did make diligent efforts to obtain the participation of government representatives from the main nuclear powers, but without success. The intention was to present the Judges of the Tribunal with the arguments about nuclear weapons policy in as realistic and careful form as possible. To offset the absence of participation by current political and military leaders, each witness appearing before the Tribunal was cross-examined by a trained and prepared lawyer from a viewpoint that incorporated official thinking, especially prevailing ideas about the morality, legality, and reliability of deterrence as an acceptable way to live with nuclear weapons.

The expert commentary presented to the Tribunal can be divided into four main sections:

D.1 Preliminary Conclusions

At this stage of its deliberations the Tribunal is prepared to release the following preliminary conclusions. These conclusions might be modified or extended on the basis of the further reflection required to produce a Tribunal Judgment.

  1. It is now established beyond any reasonable doubt that any major nuclear exchange would be an unprecedented human and environmental catastrophe, posing a serious threat to the survival of all life on the planet. One aspect of this threat has been dramatized by the experimental findings that soot and dust from nuclear explosions totalling no more than 100 megatons could produce a "nuclear winter" of at least several months' duration.
  2. The evidence presented overwhelmingly convinced the Tribunal that current weapons developments and strategies for their use (such notions as "limited nuclear war", "first-strike options", and "winnable nuclear wars") are creating acute public anxiety and produce a set of tendencies in international affairs that make the outbreak of nuclear war virtually inevitable at some point in the years ahead.
  3. The evidence established beyond reasonable doubt that governments of nuclear weapons states have preferable alternatives to their current reliance on deterrence and maintaining a favourable position in the nuclear arms race.
  4. The evidence was overwhelmingly convincing that there is no acceptable way to reconcile these weapons developments and strategies with prevailing morality, either as interpreted by the main world religions or by the leading ideas of non-religious political ethics.
  5. The Tribunal was satisfied that current and planned weapons developments, strategies, and deployments violate the basic rules and principles of international law both customary and conventional, the procurement and use of such weapons involve infringements of the Charter of the United Nations, the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 on the Law of War, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Geneva Protocols of 1977.
  6. The evidence was convincing that the Principles of the Nuremberg Judgment (the Nuremberg Principles), unanimously endorsed by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the Genocide Convention, are being violated in the most extreme fashion by ongoing preparation to wage nuclear war, especially to the extent that plans include indiscriminate, poisonous and massive destruction of civilian populations, amounting to a conspiracy to wage aggressive war. It appears to the Tribunal that this is particularly true of newly-developed and highly accurate weaponry.
  7. The evidence overwhelmingly established that war preparations are undermining the maintenance of political democracy and constitutional government in the nuclear weapons states, and compromising the sovereign rights that non-nuclear states, especially for those states that adhere to a policy of neutrality.
  8. The evidence established that resources devoted to war are excessive and wasteful, even given a commitment to military methods of self-defence, and that this circumstance greatly complicates the challenge of overcoming widespread poverty at home and abroad, an effect especially shocking at this time of massive famine in sub-Saharan Africa.

D.2 Recommendations

These conclusions lead the Tribunal at this stage of its deliberations to offer the following recommendations:

  1. THAT official studies be undertaken by governments and international institutions to consider longer term alternative security policies to that of nuclear deterrence, including comprehensive disarmament (within the framework of the 1961 McCloy-Zorin Principles), non-provocative defence arrangements, and the strengthening of the United Nations and regional security organizations (as distinct from Alliances);
  2. THAT immediate steps be taken by governments to renounce unconditionally any reliance on weapons, doctrines, and manoeuvres being developed or possessed for potential first strike or first use roles;
  3. THAT lawyers and lawyers' groups throughout the world accept as a matter of professional responsibility an urgent obligation to create an awareness as to the vital importance of the issues involved and the role which lawyers should play;
  4. THAT also, political and military leaders as well as scientists, engineers, soldiers, and workers consider their own moral and legal responsibility for participating directly or indirectly in preparations for nuclear war and to uphold their personal and collective obligations;
  5. THAT peace groups and individual tax-payers consider adopting extraordinary means of non-violent direct action to increase levels of public opposition to current preparations and plans for nuclear war;
  6. THAT moral authorities, legal specialists, and educators, re-examine and extend notions of citizenship and conscientious objection to justify refusals of individuals in military or government service to participate in any way in nuclear war preparations.

Dated this 6th day of January, 1985, at London, England.
Signed by the Members of the Tribunal,

Sean MacBride,
Chairman of the Tribunal

Richard Falk, Dorothy Hodgkin, Maurice Wilkins,
Members of the Tribunal

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