Evidence submitted by Institute for Law and Peace (INLAP)/World Court Project UK


World Court Project’s position is that we cannot imagine any plausible scenario in which Trident, or its successor, could be used with any certainty that it would comply with the principles of International Humanitarian Law. To ensure that this argument is secure and that it addresses the United Kingdom’s view of the legality of the use of nuclear weapons, we must examine the sources.

There are several IHL principles we could address. We shall concentrate on the principles of discrimination and proportionality. This says that it is unlawful to direct an attack against the civilian population or civilian objects as such; and only military objectives are legitimate targets of attack. Furthermore even a military target must not be attacked if civilian death or injury is excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack.

The ICJ could not “conclude definitively whether the
threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful” in certain restricted circumstances. At the same time, it was unable to find any plausible circumstance in which the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful. Neither have we seen any such circumstance referred to by the UK Government.

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