The Existential Risks of Nuclear War and Deterrence Through a Legal Lens

On 17 April, 2024, Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute interviewed Professor Charles J. Moxley, Jr. on his new book “Nuclear Weapons and International Law: Existential Risks of Nuclear War and Deterrence through a Legal Lens.”

The event was hosted by the New York State Bar Association and American Bar Association (ABA) International Law Section. 

The book provides a comprehensive analysis of international law concerning the use of nuclear weapons, based on existing international law, established facts as to nuclear weapons and their effects, and nuclear weapons policies and plans of the United States. Moxley argues that law can be a positive force in society’s addressing existential risks posed by nuclear weapons and the policy of nuclear deterrence.

Moxley teaches nuclear weapons law at Fordham Law School and has written and spoken about international law restraints on the threat and use of nuclear weapons for over twenty years. 

In this discussion, Granoff and Mosley outline the practicality of laws of war accepted by USA military lawyers as the starting point for global security for all. 

This acknowledgement can be the realistic basis for committed, leading  lawyers to mobilize other serious, credible and powerful influencers worldwide to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Who benefits?

Everyone in the global human family.

Who loses? 

No one does. If the transition from military cultures to positive peace, peace literate cultures and global security and achievement of sustainable development goals for the benefit of all provide equal opportunity for all to flourish and results in the re-purposing of the billions of dollars spent on violence, control and exploitation. Then, everyone wins. 

In such a transformed world, law and justice systems replace violence and threats of violence to prevent, resolve and remedy disputes.

Envision the oppressed, impoverished and vulnerable peoples of the world, women and children, Indigenous peoples and future generations no longer being the victim of war and the harmful abuses of power, like we witness every day on mainstream media and social media. But instead, living in safety, security and equal opportunity to be the best they can be. 

Envision lawyers and doctors, teachers, nurses and business, professionals and community leaders in the USA and Canada and Europe in their privilege, prosperity and relative safety security and freedom exercising their responsibility to the human race by mobilizing to advocate for effective and enforceable just laws and justice systems to reduce and deal with the existential threats and risks to the survival and the flourishing of the human race. We have done this, albeit imperfectly, domestically since democracy and the rule of law was invented. Now we must do this internationally for the benefit of ALL while the human race still exists with the capacities to improve and commit to continuous improvement.

To not do so is collective, inexcusable madness by serious-thinking and capable decision-makers who know the magnitude and urgency of nuclear weapons, climate change and other existential threats and risks. 

Our role each day must be to continue to actively educate people in communities in which we live. We must also advocate for all elected officials, businesses, and community leaders to support — through their actions and decisions — nuclear weapon abolition and the threats from climate change.

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