Recently, 78 civil society leaders from around the world released an Open Letter in Support of the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Lawsuits. I am proud to be among the signers of that letter supporting a courageous small Pacific Island country, one with only 70,000 inhabitants. The Marshall Islanders are seeking to make the world a far more secure place, free of the nuclear threat that has hung over the collective head of humanity for some seven decades.
The Open Letter was addressed to Christopher Loeak, President of the Marshall Islands; Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands; and the People and Parliament of the Marshall Islands. They all deserve credit for their courage. They are much like David in “David vs. Goliath,” but they carry court papers rather than a slingshot.
The Open Letter salutes the initiative of the Marshall Islanders in seeking enforcement of international law by bringing lawsuits against the nine nuclear-armed “Goliaths” for their failure to fulfill their obligations to negotiate in good faith to end the nuclear arms race and to achieve complete nuclear disarmament. These obligations derive from Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and from customary international law.
The Open Letter praises the Marshall Islands for acting on behalf of all humanity and generations yet unborn in bringing the issue of the broken promises and breached obligations of the nuclear-armed countries to the International Court of Justice and to the U.S. Federal District Court. In their lawsuits the Marshall Islands seeks no compensation. Rather, it seeks an injunction by the Court requiring the fulfillment of legal obligations to negotiate for nuclear disarmament by the nuclear-armed countries.
The letter concludes, “All people and all governments that have the welfare and survival of humanity and the planet at heart must support you wholeheartedly in your courageous legal action.”
The Open Letter was coordinated by John Hallam, an Australian civil society leader working with People for Nuclear Disarmament and the Human Survival Project. Other signers of the letter include Nobel Peace Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire; and former Mayor of Hiroshima Tadatoshi Akiba.