Nuclear Strategy of NATO is Illegal
Citizens Summon NATO Heads of State in Madrid

Update: World Court Project Media Release July 8 1997

Madrid, July 1997
Madrid will be the scene of a David-and-Goliath confrontation when the NATO Heads of State meet on 8 July 1997. An international group of non-violent peace-activists, representing the Nuclear Weapons Abolition Days Network (A-days) will present a 'Citizens' Summons' at the start of the meeting. According to the activists NATO's nuclear policy is illegal. They demand immediate action to review it. Failing this, the network will organise direct non-violent resistance at locations where preparations for nuclear war are carried out starting on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations next August 6th and 9th.

The NATO meeting in Madrid coincides with the first anniversary of the historic decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague - the World Court - concerning the legal status of nuclear weapons. In the Advisory Opinion which it delivered, the Court stated that "The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of
humanitarian law". Anti-nuclear activists and international lawyers claim that, in practice, existing nuclear weapons could not be used without violating international law.

Crucially, the Court declared that an obligation exists on all states "to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament..." Twelve months after the Court's judgment, there is no evidence that NATO has responded to its implications. Indeed, in a communique dated 10 December 1996, NATO stated that "the nuclear forces of the Allies continue to play a unique and essential role in the Alliance's strategy of war prevention..."

According to Pol D'Huyvetter, campaigner at For Mother Earth International from Belgium: " The peace movement is determined to uphold the law, as clarified by the World Court. We can not allow the nuclear weapons states to forget their legal obligations. Citizens, we have the obligation to act under the Nurenberg Principles ".

Citizens Summons

Sixteen copies of this document, one for each NATO leader, will be presented by a notary immediately after the NATO heads of State have arrived in Madrid. The final version will consist of a scroll tied in red ribbon and sealed. Please sign on today.

It is hoped that the citizens' summons will be able to play a part in our actions after the Madrid summit. It is very important that NATO leaders are reminded as often as possible that their nuclear policy is illegal. If you live in a NATO country, which is not English speaking, would you translate this document into your own language and fax it to George Farebrother +44-1323-844269.

It is vital also that the voices of New Zealand and the Pacific are heard on this issue.

Please try to come to Madrid yourself. We already have registrations from activists from Belarus, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine and USA. We wish to encourage citizens from as many NATO member states as possible to be there.

8 JULY 1997


Whereas on 8 July 1996 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), or World Court, drawing on international agreements such as The Hague Conventions, Geneva Conventions, and Genocide Convention, issued its Advisory Opinion on the legal status of the threat or use of nuclear weapons which concluded that:

  • the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally contrary to international humanitarian law;

  • no circumstance had been identified in which the use of nuclear weapons would not violate humanitarian law;

  • there is no distinction in law between threat and use of nuclear weapons; the limited use of low yield nuclear weapons would tend to escalate to all-out use of high yield nuclear weapons;

  • the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 applies to nuclear weapons. Thus it is the duty of citizens to uphold the law relating to nuclear weapons and of military personnel to obey it even if given a contrary order by a superior or by his or her national government;

  • there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion (our emphasis) negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control;

And whereas on 10 December 1996 the United Nations General Assembly, in response to the ICJ Advisory Opinion, called for negotiations in 1997 leading to the early conclusion of a Nuclear Weapons Convention;

And whereas NATO is therefore acting illegally by:

  • retaining the option to use nuclear weapons first in future conflicts;

  • compounding its violation of international law by a stated intention to incorporate new member States into its nuclear alliance;

  • issuing orders to its military personnel to prepare for the illegal use of nuclear weapons;

  • making conditional plans to use, through its member nuclear weapon States, a stockpile of nuclear weapons which, because of their yield, would necessarily violate international humanitarian law;

  • condoning the consistent opposition by its member nuclear weapon States of moves towards the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

We, as citizens of a planet under threat of irreparable damage from the illegal threat of nuclear weapons, and acting in accordance with our obligation under the Nuremberg Charter to uphold the law, hereby give you notice that unless you take immediate action to review NATO's illegal nuclear policy we shall use all non-violent means in our power to intervene against all preparations for nuclear war at all the places where they are carried out. This could include organising and taking part in non-violent direct action, or support of such. As NATO, after one year, has given no indication of complying with the ICJ Advisory Opinion, such action will commence after the meeting of the NATO Heads of State in Madrid.


___________________ (name) _________________________ (organisation)


Copy and mail to

Madrid Contacts

Campaign against NATO office
Calle Carretas, 33, 20F. (near Plaza del Sol)
Madrid, Spain

Phone/fax: +34-1-531 75 99

For Mother Earth International
Lange Steenstraat 16-D, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Phone: +32-9-233 84 39
Fax: +32-9-233 49 24

=> FME volunteers will be out of the office June 30. After attending an international FME meeting in the Czech Republic. They'll be in Madrid July 4th till July 10th.

Madrid Alternative NATO Summit Schedule of Events

This is a first outline for the events in Madrid.

The first part (July 2 - 5) is organised by a coalition of Spanish NGO's, while the second part (July 6 - 9) is a cooperation between the Spanish NGO's and the A-days international network.

Wed. July 2 'JORNADAS DE DEBATE' (seminar)
Thu. July 3 everyday from 7 till 9 p.m.
Fri. July 4 Calle Alenza, 13, Madrid

Fri. July 4 Newsconference

Sat. July 5 Demonstration at 12 noon Atocha, Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Sun. July 6 Welcoming international participants A-days
Contact +34-1-531 75 99 for directions to meeting and sleeping places.

Mon. July 7 Briefing NATO Summit and A-days Campaign and action
Legal briefing and non-violent action training

Pressconference A-days (place t.b.a.) with George Farebrother from World Court Project and spokesperson for IALANA

Tue. July 8th First anniversary ICJ advisory opinion and start NATO Summit
Delivery 'Citizens Summons' to NATO Heads of State at start of meeting

Wed. July 9th NATO Summit ends.