Proposition One


(Mr. Jonathan Wutawunashe continues...)

President Clinton of the United States was on the mark, we believe, with his opposition to the general notion of military necessity when he praised Belarus for giving up nuclear weapons on their soil. He said:
"It would have been easier to say 'these weapons make us a great nation, they make us stronger, we will use them, we will rattle them around as threats', but you made a better choice - to live nuclear free." (Speech to the Academy of Sciences, Minsk. As reported in the Christchurch Press, Aotearoa-New Zealand, 17 January 1994.)
We must heed statements of principle like this one. They do help to form an international opinion on the nature of nuclear weapons.
The necessity argument is even less defensible in light of the development of modern delivery systems the accuracy of which means that military targets can be destroyed without any requirement of weapons of mass destruction, if there ever was such a requirement. The nuclear States are the most advanced in these weapons systems. Thus even military leaders such as Lord Mountbatten, Lord Carver (former United Kingdom Chief of Defence Staff) and Admiral Eugene Carroll (United States Navy ret.) have said that there is no military necessity for nuclear weapons. A United States Air Force General, who was the Head of Air Operations in the Gulf War and the Head of the United States Space Command, said in 1994:
"The nuclear weapon is obsolete; I want to get rid of them all ... Think of the high moral ground we secure by having none. It's kind of hard for us to say to North Korea, 'You are terrible people, you're developing a nuclear weapon', when the United States has thousands of them." (The Boston Globe, 16 July 1994.)
It should be noted that even if there was a hypothetical situation in which a military target could not be destroyed except with a nuclear weapon, and the nuclear States have given no proof that there could be such a situation, the use of nuclear weapons would still be illegal. Military necessity does not override humanitarian laws of warfare.
Mr. President, the United Kingdom this morning (and in their written submission as well) stretched the military necessity argument when it claimed that, if a large military advantage were at stake, high civilian losses and damages may be justified. The Red Cross letter to the Court previously referred to, regarding the 1977 Geneva Protocol, categorically opposed this argument, stating that:
"This idea is contrary to the fundamental rules of the Protocol; in particular it conflicts with Article 48 (Basic rule) and paragraphs 1 and 2 of the present Article 51. The Protocol does not provide any justification for attacks which cause extensive civilian losses and damages. Incidental losses and damages should never be extensive."
Article 48 referred to by the Red Cross provides:
"In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objects and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objects."
Paragraph 1 of Article 51 referred to by the Red Cross provides:
"The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations."
Paragraph 2 of Article 51, referred to by the Red Cross, provides:
"Acts or threats of violence, the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited."
Even before 1977, it was a universally recognized principle of humanitarian law that mass slaughter of civilians is illegal no matter the provocation or military advantage which may be gained.
The United Kingdom, France and the United States have argued that even if they do not use nuclear weapons, the threat of their use is necessary for deterrence. However, Zimbabwe is not alone in its view that threat of use is neither necessary nor legal.
There are, we believe, many better ways to prevent war than threatening to destroy one's potential opponent. The United Nations Charter sets out some of these ways, including recourse to this Court. Subsequent United Nations resolutions on the establishment of international, regional and national conflict resolution mechanisms add to these methods. In addition, the fact that all of the nuclear States have been involved in wars since 1945 indicates that nuclear deterrence has not kept the peace ("Wars and Related War Deaths", World Military and Social Expenditures, Ruth Leger Sivard, World Priorities 1993). Zimbabwe supports the arguments made by other States, including Costa Rica, that nuclear weapons do not provide for peace and security, but on the contrary, threaten peace and security.
I would add, Mr. President, with respect to the theories of deterrence and the doctrines derived from them, that it seems to us to be a curious distortion of logic first to create a new level, a new more dangerous level, of armaments raising warfare to new destructively imaginative levels and then to argue that one has kept the peace at a higher and more dangerous level, and to seek to persuade others to accept that for the last 50 or so years this new and more dangerous and potentially genocidal level of armaments should be credited with keeping peace.
Mr. President, while it is true that a minority of States have relied on nuclear deterrence as part of their security doctrine, that does not prove its necessity or legality. The minority of States which engage in torture, arbitrary detention and other forms of gross human rights violations are in the habit of justifying these practices as necessary for their national security, a proposition that has never been accepted by the vast majority of human-rights-respecting States.
Mr. President, Members of the Court, Zimbabwe has played a key role in the negotiations for an African treaty establishing a nuclear-free zone in our region. Such a treaty is expected to be concluded in the near future. The United Kingdom and the United States have argued that the conclusion of treaties prohibiting the possession, threat or use of nuclear weapons in specific regions suggests that there is therefore no general prohibition against the threat or use of nuclear weapons, and that parties to these regional treaties accept this. Zimbabwe contends that this is manifestly incorrect, and if anything, the opposite is the case, that is, that regional treaties are the gradual codifying, through geographic regions, of a generally accepted prohibition of nuclear weapons. These agreements and arrangements are evidence of emerging legal norms that have a unique opportunity now through global institutions to whom is ascribed the authority and the role to assist in codifying them for those institutions to play their role in the emergence of these legal norms.
Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Court, a number of countries have referred to the importance of the Martens Clause in the Hague and Geneva Conventions. This clause states that in considering new weapons systems or methods of warfare, the principles of customary international law and the dictates of public conscience shall apply. The threat and use of nuclear weapons violate both customary international law and the dictates of public conscience.
With respect to the dictates of public conscience, Zimbabwe draws the Court's attention to the 3 million declarations of public conscience that were presented to the Court on 31 October. Some of these declarations were from citizens from Zimbabwe. It should be noted that many of these declarations were from citizens from nuclear countries as well as from non-nuclear countries.
In addition, there are many prominent citizens in nuclear countries, including church leaders, military people, members of parliament, and parliamentary initiatives supporting this initiative and the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Zimbabwe would like to mention one in particular, the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Bill introduced into the 104th United States Congress as a result of a citizens'-initiated referendum. United States Congress member and introducer of the Bill, Eleanor Holmes Norton, sent a letter to this Court on 3 November 1995, describing the Bill and urging this Court to
"consider the legacy it will pass on to our children, and to issue a strong opinion in favour of nuclear disarmament."
Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Court, Zimbabwe supports the positive role this Court can play in the settling of legal disputes and in answering legal questions of importance to States and to humankind.
International law, and the adherence to it, is the foundation from which a just international order can be built. International law is based on the premise that States are equivalent in rights and responsibilities, regardless of size, military power, race, economic power and other forms of discriminatory influence.
Following the catastrophes of the two world wars, it became imperative that a new world order based upon the force of law rather than the law of force be constructed. The emergence of the United Nations arose from the desire of the peoples of the world for an end to the scourge of war and the desire for democratic international institutions to ensure that justice and equality eventuated.
Zimbabwe has faith in the independence and integrity of this Court. In that respect, Zimbabwe, as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, calling for a United Nations Decade of International Law, with a primary aim of increasing reference to and acceptance of the International Court of Justice. This resolution was adopted by consensus.
Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Court, we are now half way through the United Nations Decade of International Law. While there has been an increase in cases referred to the Court, there is still a long way to go to reach universal acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction. The outcome of the present case could have some influence in this regard. The Court has been made evidently aware that the majority of States are of the opinion that the Court should consider both questions put to it, and that the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance is not permitted - is not permitted and is not permissible - under existing international law.
The large number of countries participating in the current proceedings and the large citizen and academic support indicate the importance of this case.
Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Court, the imperative of the well-being and survival of whole nations, indeed of the entire globe, places on all of us the duty to work towards the creation of an international system based on morality and law. Zimbabwe believes that our global institutions must play a key role in this enterprise. In this instance, this venerable Court must play its proper role and render an advisory opinion that will help rid our world of these infernal weapons of mass destruction. Earlier today, Mr. President, we heard references to phantom legal instruments. I believe that the greatest danger that is facing humankind today is that of having a shell of the world left, inhabited by phantoms.
I thank you, Mr. President and Members of the Court, for this opportunity to present the views of Zimbabwe.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Your Excellency, for your statement. That concludes the oral argument by Zimbabwe.

As the 14 judges deliberate at The Hague, there is a global network spreading rapidly, dedicated to the elimination of all nuclear weapons by the year 2000, appropriately called Abolition 2000. -->
Beginning of Zimbabwe Testimony
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