OREPA MARKS WORLD COURT ANNIVERSARY
WITH PUBLIC READING OF OPINION ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Legal opinions can be arid, convoluted collections of legalese. But sometimes they speak with clarity and power.
On Sunday, July 7, 2013, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance will celebrate the seventeenth anniversary of the International Court of Justice (World Court)’s 1996 decision on the legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons with a public reading of excerpts from the opinion at the weekly Sunday vigil, 5:00pm, at the East Bear Creek entrance to the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The public reading marks the seventh year OREPA has marked the World Court anniversary with a public ruling. “It started out as a one-time reading to mark the tenth anniversary,” said OREPA coordinator, Ralph Hutchison. “But as we read it, we found the document to be compelling, and we decided to repeat it the next year. And here we are, seven years later, still reading.”
The World Court opinion was issued after hearing arguments from the United States and other nations; it reviews the various arguments, reflects on the nature of nuclear weapons, places them in the context of the larger goals of humanity, and finally determines that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to common humanitarian law.”
While the court issued split rulings on several of the issues raised by the arguments, it spoke with one voice when it ruled, unanimously, that nuclear weapons states have “an obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament.” The court’s language echoes and strengthens the commitments made by the United States in 1969 when it promised, in signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to pursue nuclear disarmament negotiations “at an early date.”
“This ruling has particular power for us today,” Hutchison noted, “because the Nonproliferation Treaty is in danger of unraveling with disastrous consequences. And the work being done at Y12 to extend the lifetimes of US nuclear warheads is in clear defiance of the court’s ruling.”
In April of this year, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark declared in federal court in Knoxville that the work at Y12 is “unlawful.”
Sunday’s reading will be open to the public. “Everyone is invited to come to read or to listen,” said Hutchison.
OREPA has held nonviolent vigils for peace every Sunday for more than thirteen years at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge. For more information, contact Ralph Hutchison: 865 776 5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.