Written before the adoption, in July 2017, of the United Nations (UN) Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, this book excellently explains why this new approach to nuclear weapons is necessary. The author points out the fact that the balance-of-power approach had failed to produce the ban on nuclear weapons, that was supposed to have been negotiated under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), adopted half a century ago. The fact that nuclear-weapon States refused to be involved in the negotiation of the 2017 treaty, three of them stating that it would be incompatible with their policy of nuclear deterrence, only proves that such States do not take Article VI of the NPT seriously. The catastrophic effect of any use of nuclear weapons, the quantity of near-misses, as well as heightened tensions in the world today, reinforces the urgency of a total ban. It was always obvious to my students how absurd a lack of such a treaty was, given the basic rules of international humanitarian law and the ban on other cruel or indiscriminate weapons. The value of Daniel Rietiker’s book is that it is a thorough overview of the relevant law prior to the adoption of this new treaty. This includes a description of how any such use would inevitably violate the rules of international humanitarian law, human rights law and environmental law, and would probably amount to one or more international crimes. He refers extensively to the treaties, adopted since the 1990s, that comprehensively ban weapons based on their cruel and indiscriminate effects. These treaties were developed outside the UN disarmament framework, in order to avoid its rule of rigid consensus which effectively gives a veto to any one State. The book also shows the importance of international humanitarian law and human rights law in arms control given their significant role in the recent Arms Trade Treaty. In the light of all these elements, this book considers the provisions that should feature in the treaty banning nuclear weapons and why. Most of his suggestions were indeed taken up. The preamble does refer back to existing obligations, as well as the urgent humanitarian need for the treaty. The rest of the treaty obligations copy elements of the Ottawa and Oslo treaties in the way he suggests. In particular, the rules on victim assistance reinforce the need for genuine help after any use (which I hope never again happens) or testing (which regrettably is still not comprehensively prohibited), which is not limited to medical treatment for immediate injury. As such this book is a very valuable contribution to an understanding of the background to the treaty and the significance of the provisions that were adopted. It is earnestly hoped that influential people in States that were not involved in its negotiation and adoption will, in the light of this information, help their governments understand the wisdom underlying this treaty and the urgent need for its universal ratification and respect. © Oxford University Press 2018; All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Journal of Conflict and Security Law – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 20, 2018
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