Tag: International Law

Biological weapons under international law

An introduction to the international regulation of biological weapons. 

December 2016

Biological weapons are subject to a specific and comprehensive prohibition under international law. The 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) bans the development, possession, and transfer of biological weapons, and obliges States Parties to destroy or divert to peaceful purposes all such weapons in their possession or under their jurisdiction or control.

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.

A ‘legal gap’? Nuclear weapons under international law

In December 2014, the Austrian government called on states and other stakeholders to ‘fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.’ The ‘Humanitarian Pledge’ to fill the legal gap has now been endorsed by more than 120 UN member states.

By Gro Nystuen and Kjølv Egeland
21 March 2016

Is there really a ‘legal gap’ in the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime? And, if so, is it a gap in substantive law or is it ‘just’ a compliance gap? This is the question Dr Gro Nystuen and Kjølv Egeland tackle in their feature in the most recent number of Arms Control Today. Read the full article at Arms Control Association’s website here.

Ambiguous ambitions

The saga of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international legal framework regulating weapons of mass destruction

By Reza Lahidji
10 September 2015

The agreement signed on 14 July 2015 by the representatives of Iran and the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany) is considered a major development in international relations by its proponents and critics alike. If it is enacted by both sides and effectively implemented, the agreement will end more than a decade of crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme and twenty-five years of controversies about its policy with regard to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This paper examines the history of Iran’s doctrine on WMD, of the handling of Iran’s case by international institutions governing the production of WMD, and of the internal debate on WMD in the Iranian political system and society. This history sheds light on both fundamental changes within the Islamic Republic of Iran and problematic aspects of the international non-proliferation regime.

Nuclear Weapons under International Law – An Overview

ILPI’s Senior Partner Dr. Gro Nystuen together with Dr. Stuart Casey-Maslen and Annie Bersagel, edited a book titled Nuclear Weapons Under International Law which was published at Cambridge University Press in September 2014

Edited by Gro NystuenStuart Casey-Maslen, & Annie Bersagel

Nuclear weapons and their third parties

Legal remedies for addressing the indirect consequences of nuclear weapons

By Annie G. Bersagel

In this background paper, ILPI’s Annie Golden Bersagel discusses the potential legal remedies available for third party states affected by a nuclear weapons attack. The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons challenges traditional international law notions of transboundary harm. Seeking legal redress for indirect consequences of the use of nuclear weapons is far from straightforward, and even states that are parties to a nuclear-weapons-free zone would face the same difficulties.

Learning from the past

What past experience can tell us about addressing the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons

By John Borrie

In this paper, John Borrie draws parallels between the humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons and the processes to ban cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines. Although there are important differences between nuclear and conventional weapons, previous disarmament initiatives offer valuable lessons for the humanitarian initiative.

A ban on the use of nuclear weapons?

Examining the effectiveness of an isolated ban on use of nuclear weapons


This paper has been produced by the ILPI Nuclear Weapons Project in order to draw attention to some key arguments in on-going discussions on how to frame a potential prohibition of nuclear weapons. The paper discusses whether an isolated ban on use of nuclear weapons is a recommendable way forward towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. The conclusion is that such an approach probably will be inadequate, notwithstanding that a call for a ban on use could serve as an important mobilizing factor in a wider context.