Mexico Calls for Illegality
of Threat or Use
The Assembly of states which have signed up to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court have been meeting in New York in December. Mexico wants to criminalise the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons as a war crime. They argue that nuclear weapons are by their very nature incapable of distinguish-ing between legitimate military targets and civilians and that there could be no military necessity which could ever justify their use.
In addition, they would cause extreme and unnecessary suffering. All this puts nuclear weapons well beyond the bounds of International Humanitarian Law. Mexico also points out that chemical weapons and expanding bullets have long been outlawed; and yet the effects of these are dwarfed by nuclear weapons.
The Rome Statute already criminalises indiscriminate weapons in general. But there is a condition in the Rome Statute which says:: "provided that such weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare are the subject of a comprehensive prohibition and are included in an annex to this Statute, by an amendment ...”. So an amendment about nuclear weapons is needed.
However, the amendment will only be binding on states which accept it and this will allow such individual states to decide on their acceptance of it. Even so, if the Rome Statute is amended to make the threat or use of nuclear weapons a crime, it would have a considerable political impact and the nuclear-armed states will fight it tooth and nail.