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Posted on on August 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Irith Jawetz reports from Vienna, Austria: “The Current Nuclear Problems: Disarmament and the Humanitarian Aspects of Nuclear Weapons” – Seminar on August 2, 2013 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP).

With the world watching these days all sort of fighting within Nations – some of which even posses nuclear weapons, and all factions being potential acquirers of nuclear material, to keep up with the most pressing and relevant topics in the field of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and security, the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VNDNP) has instituted a monthly seminar series that includes presentations by prominent experts. Some recent speakers included: Lord Des Browne, former UK Secretary of Deffence; Mark Fitzpatrick, HSS; Dr. Diegfried Hecker, Stanford; Dr. Steven Miller, Harvard; Amb. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Princeton; Dr. Thomas Schelling, Nobel Prize winner; Amb. Tibor Toth, CTBTO; Ahmed Üzümcü, OPCW, and many others.

This month VCDNP has organized a seminar by Justice Christopher Gregory Weeramantry, titled “The Current Nuclear Problems: Disarmament and the Humanitarian Aspects of Nuclear Weapons” which was held on Friday, 2 August 2013, at 12:30 in the conference room of the VCDNP in the Andromeda building of the Austria International Center outside he UN compound gates.

Justice Weeramantry was a Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) when ICJ delivered an advisory opinion in 1996 about the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons. The decision provides one of the few authoritative judicial decisions concerning the legality under international law of the use or the threatened use of nuclear weapons. Judge Weeramantry’s presentation focused on the obligation under Article VI of the NPT for the nuclear-weapon States, and all other States, to pursue negotiations in good faith on ending the nuclear arms race and achieving nuclear disarmament, as well the issue of nuclear weapons in international law and their humanitarian consequences.

Justice Weeramantry delivered a powerful and compassionate speech against the use of Nuclear Weapons. He started his presentation by saying that the future of humanity depends on our generation. By being able to use nuclear weapons we are given the power to inflict more damage than any generation before us. We can impose suffering not only on us but on future generations with unimaginable physical, mental, and environmental damage. We know the effect of what we are doing. He used very harsh words for our generation describing us as “worse than the cavemen and Genghis Khan”.

When Hiroshima and Nagasaki were attacked by the nuclear bombs they could not retaliate. However, next time an attack like that happens, there will be retaliation in the form of an exchange with nuclear weapons. The damage of a nuclear catastrophe grows from day to day since the expertise is available and is for sale to the highest bidder.

The use of Nuclear weapons goes against every principal of International and humanitarian Law. In order to stop the possession and probable use of nuclear weapons people must be better educated The general public does not know the basics of International law and cannot influence the leaders.

His immediate solution is education of the youth. He has spoken and continues on his crusade to approach many young people in Sri Lanka, USA, Great Britain, Australia and other countries. We must teach the basics of International and humanitarian Law in every school in the world. He even went as far as to say that all religions abhor this kind of violence and we must show that the basic principles of religion and International Law are the same and should be respected.

During the Q & A session he answered a question relating to treaties and said no treaties are needed because the ground rule is laid in the International & Humanitarian Law. It is a rule of basic International Law that nuclear weapons should be banned.

Justice Weeramantry was accompanied by his granddaughter who is following in his steps and is an International lawyer working for the ban of nuclear weapons.

Their mission is to spread the word and let’s hope that people, and especially leaders, will listen to their lesson.

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