New article on the WMD-free zone in the Middle EastPosted: July 28, 2014 Filed under: Biological, Chemical, Nuclear 1 Comment
I would like to alert our readers on a chapter I have written for Grø Nystuen, Stuart Casey-Maslen and Annie Golden Bersagel’s forthcoming edited book Nuclear Weapons under International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2014). My contribution, which can be downloaded from here, discusses the international law issues arising from the treaties establishing nuclear weapon-free zones in inhabited regions of the world. In particular, it focuses on the proposed zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, identifying the potential legal problems and making suggestions for possible solutions.
Comments are as always welcome.
I really appreciate that Dr. Marco Roscini raised international environmental law issue and analyzed environmental provisions in nuclear weapon-free zone treaties in her article International Law, Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones and the Proposed Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East (available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2472329) as well as her earlier article Something Old, Something New: The 2006 Semipalatinsk Treaty on a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, 7 Chinese J. Int’l L. 593, 596, 602-605.
From my point of view, the significance of environmental concerns has long been estimated in the field of nuclear weapons. Naturally, if you ask someone what the disastrous consequence of using nuclear weapons is. He will think of the destruction of a whole city, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the loss of millions and billions of human lives. If you say, nuclear weapons also cause environment damage. He will probably say: “Are you serious? Compared with loss of millions of lives, who cares about the environment?”
Nevertheless, international environmental law does play an important role in this filed. The importance has been addressed by some literatures, although such literatures are relatively few. For example, Judge Xue Hanqin wrote: “Although the question of nuclear weapon tests belongs to the domain of disarmament, its legal dimensions also bear on the issue of international responsibility and liability for environmental damage.” (Xue Hanqin, Transboundary Damage in International Law, 2003, Cambridge University Press, p.21).
The international community has also recognized, to some extent, the importance of environment in the context of nuclear weapons test. Nuclear Tests cases, Australia and New Zealand also raised environmental issues, although the Court did not render a judgment on the merits of the cases. In 1994, the General Assembly adopted Resolution A/49/75K, requesting the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on the question whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons is in any circumstances permitted under international law. Notably, the World Health Organization had earlier presented a similar but not identical request to the Court, although the Court had refused to give an opinion on the basis that the legality of the use of nuclear weapons fell outside the WHO’s remit…
It is exciting to see that some nuclear-free zone treaties, especially the Semipalatinsk Treaty, contain some environmental provisions (Art. 1 of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Art. 6 of the Rarotonga Treaty, Art. 3(1) (c) and 3(2)(c) of the Bangkok Treaty and Art. 5 of the Pelindaba Treaty, Art.5 &6 of the Semipalatinsk Treaty). The existence of those provisions reminds the international community that nuclear-free zone is not all about “peace and security”, and environment is also an important concern!
The environmental parts in Dr. Roscini’s two articles are well-written. I really enjoy reading them, and it has provides me with inspirations to my own research. But they are just a few paragraphs. I really look forward to read a whole article focusing on environmental concerns in nuclear-free zone treaties.
(A student of Dr. James Fry’s course “Arms Control and Disarmament Law” at University of Hong Kong)