Mélange du Mercredi/Nuclear Weapons under International Law

Welcome to Mélange du Mercredi (Wednesday Mix). Each week, we highlight one of the latest and greatest in reading, film and other scholarly resources, focusing on a variety of issues pertaining to international humanitarian law. As always, if you have suggestions, or would like to submit a post on something you feel our readers will also enjoy, we're happy to include them. Just email Editor Niki Clark


Nuclear Weapons under International Law, edited by Gro Nystuen, Stuart Casey-Maslen and Annie Golden Bersagel. 

This review was written by Eleanor Mitchell, former intern in the Legal Division of the ICRC and now a trainee at Matrix Chambers. Her review was originally published in The International Review: 
The Human Cost of Nuclear Weapons

What are we really looking for in a new text on nuclear weapons? To some extent, it can rightly be said that all the key issues have been canvassed at some length in the (almost) two decades since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion). There have, however, been significant changes in the context against which these issues must be considered. Particularly notable are scientific advances, which have deepened our understanding of the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons (as highlighted at the recent conferences held on the subject), and technological advances, which have focused the legal debate on weapons of the “low-yield” or “tactical” variety. 

A number of authors have provided valuable contemporary analysis which incorporates, and even focuses on, these changes. Still, there remains much to be said for the availability of an up-to-date “one-stop shop” for discussion not only of the traditional core questions, but also of those which have received less extensive attention from legal scholars. Nuclear Weapons under International Law provides precisely this. In addition, it acts as a timely reminder that the existence of large stockpiles of nuclear weapons demands not resignation, but rather continued reflection, debate, and ultimately action. 

While it is impossible to do justice to every chapter in the space available, the following pages offer some insights into the book’s six substantive parts – each of which addresses one of the broad areas of law and policy engaged by nuclear weapons – before ending with some concluding thoughts on the final part. 

Download the full review here