The ICJ Advisory Opinion on nuclear weapons and international humanitarian law

Panel presentation at the side event on legal aspects of nuclear disarmament at the UN General Assembly First Committee, October 2016.

By Dr Gro Nystuen
18 October 2016

The ICJ Advisory Opinion on the lawfulness of nuclear weapons was given 20 years ago, and there has been very different opinions as to whether it clarified or confused the question of how nuclear weapons are regulated by international law, and particularly international humanitarian law. Both from a legal and a political perspective, the Opinion has played and continues to play a key part in the discussions on nuclear disarmament.

Gender, development and nuclear weapons

Shared goals, shared concerns

October 2016

This study discusses the relationship between nuclear weapons and gender—how and why the two are connected, both to each other, and to shared global agendas such as sustainable development.

Workshop in preparation for the Eighth Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference

On 19–20 September, ILPI, in cooperation with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit, organised a two-day workshop for Geneva-based diplomats on the science and politics of biological weapons and biology-related security issues.

By Daniel Frederik Mandrella

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which entered into force on 26 March 1975, is the main international legal instrument addressing biological weapons. Its provisions include a total ban of the development, production, and stockpiling of all biological weapons. While the prohibition itself is total, the Convention suffers from not having a formal verification mechanism confirming compliance. In addition, 21st century scientific and technological developments, including the emergence of ‘synthetic biology’ and genetic-engineering techniques such as CRISPR, have brought to the fore the increasing interconnection between international security and science and technology.

Under my umbrella

Understanding the terms ‘nuclear umbrella’ and ‘nuclear umbrella state’

5 August 2016

The term ‘nuclear umbrella’ is frequently used to describe military alliances that maintain the option of using nuclear weapons in their collective defence. Yet despite its widespread use, the concept lacks a precise definition, and there does not seem to be agreement on exactly which states should be referred to as ‘nuclear umbrella states’.

The road to Pelindaba

An overview of the history and politics of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in Africa

29 July 2016

This article provides an overview of the history and politics of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in Africa. It explores the process that led to the establishment of an African nuclear-weapon-free zone, and discusses the terms of its founding document, the Pelindaba Treaty. It also discusses the role of African states in recent and on-going disarmament processes such as the review cycle of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Humanitarian Initiative. The article concludes with a discussion of the future of African states’ engagement in the movement towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

Spelling Tlatelolco

An overview of the history and politics of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean

5 July 2016

This article provides an overview of the history and politics of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean. A particular emphasis is placed on the Latin American and Caribbean nuclear-weapon-free zone. We discuss the terms of the Treaty and how the zone came to include states that were initially reluctant to join it. With this as a backdrop, we also consider the role of Latin American and Caribbean states in ongoing efforts to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

1540 and the 2016 Comprehensive Review

A brief history of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 in light of the 2016 Comprehensive Review

By Hanne Veel
13 June 2016

On 28 April 2004, the UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 1540,[i] the purpose of which is to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to non-state actors, in particular for terrorist purposes. The resolution obliges all UN member states to adopt and enforce appropriate legislation to this end, and to put in place domestic controls to prevent such proliferation. The resolution further establishes a committee to oversee its implementation. In accordance with a subsequent resolution from 2011 (UNSC Res 1977), the 1540 resolution will undergo a comprehensive review in 2016, with a view to improving implementation of the resolution. This article briefly outlines the history and implementation of the resolution to date, with the aim of providing a backdrop to the on-going review process.

100 years since Verdun

A century ago, chemical weapons were used to terrible effects in the fields of France.


By Kjølv Egeland
27 May 2016

100 years ago, large parts of the globe were engulfed in one of the most devastating conflicts the world has ever seen. The Battle of Verdun, dragging on over most of the year 1916, was one of the First World War’s most devastating engagements. More than 300 000 French and German soldiers—possible a lot more—lost their lives in the hills of north-eastern France between February 21st and December 20th. As many other battles of the ‘Great War’, Verdun saw extensive use of chemical weapons—or ‘poison gas’—by both sides.