John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

Nuclear Weapons and Compliance with International Humanitarian Law

Wed, 03/30/2011
Noon, Bowl 16, Robertson Hall
Event Category: 
Co-sponsored Event
By Invitation Only

The Program on Science and Global Security and the Program in Law and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs invite you to a seminar by John Burroughs on Wednesday, March 30, on "Nuclear Weapons and Compliance with International Humanitarian Law."

The 1996 declaration of the International Court of Justice that nuclear weapons are subject to international humanitarian law governing the conduct of warfare was affirmed by the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. In its Final Document approved by all participating states, including the NPT recognized nuclear-weapon states, the Conference expressed "its deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons", and reaffirmed "the need for all states at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law." Humanitarian law is founded, as the Court said, on "elementary considerations of humanity." Its rules aim to prevent the infliction of indiscriminate harm and unnecessary suffering. States possessing nuclear arsenals currently have policies declaring their readiness to use the weapons to defend "vital interests." This seminar will discuss what compliance with humanitarian law requires of those states.

John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D., is Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, the UN office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. He is co-author of an article forthcoming in the Fordham International Law Journal, "Nuclear Weapons and Compliance with International Humanitarian Law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." Among other publications, he is co-editor and contributor, Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis, and Paths to Peace (2007); and author of The Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Historic Opinion of the International Court of Justice (1997). He is also an adjunct professor of international law at Rutgers Law School, Newark, New Jersey.

RSVP to by Noon, Tuesday 3/29 requested; additional details at