Evidence, Commentary, and Judgment

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1.3 Method of Inquiry

This Tribunal is an informal body without any official mandate. At the same time, it is totally independent and no one connected with its activities received any kind of compensation for their efforts. The Judges were selected by the Convenors and listened to the evidence as presented by expert witnesses and in documentary submission. It sought arguments pro and contra the main issues in as effective form as was available. On its own the Tribunal examined additional materials as relevant for the discharge of its functions. Some background is more fully presented in the Foreword.

The Judgment discusses the probable effects of nuclear weapons if they are ever used again, and relies on this analysis to infer the probable intentions of responsible civilian and military officials. As in domestic law, a person is held responsible for the probable effects of his actions whether or not a specific result is willed. Such accountability is even more appropriately imposed on a collective entity such as a government. This process of ascertaining and applying legal standards is especially appropriate where the burden of social policy is preventive rather than reactive. The circumstances posed by the nuclear arms race and the doctrine of deterrence make such a preventive emphasis in the law of decisive and overwhelming importance. After analyzing the evidence as carefully as possible the Tribunal presents its conclusions, followed by a set of policy recommendations. In a broad sense, this Tribunal is carrying on in the spirit of Nuremberg which above all else imposed on individual citizens the duty to safeguard international peace and security by making sure that governments upheld their obligations under international law. It is also trying to clarify "the dictates of public conscience" on the matter of legal duty pertaining to nuclear weaponry, and thereby responding to the call of the de Martens Clause. Finally, it joins with such kindred entities as the Permanent People's Tribunal ++ to support the legitimacy and importance of societal initiatives to encourage adherence to international law in the war/peace area, and claims for itself authority to declare the character of legal obligations in relation to nuclear weapons that is owed by governments, officials, military officers, scientists and engineers, as well as by citizens occupying various roles in society. Some of these implications are spelled out in the Recommendations section of the Judgment shown in Chapter 7.


++ See for example, A Crime of Silence: The Armenian Genocide, giving the deliberations of the Permanent People's Tribunal on the question of Armenia.

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© 1985-2005 Geoffrey Darnton. All rights reserved.