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Founded in 1981 as an outgrowth of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP) is a national, nonprofit coalition of attorneys that pursues the elimination of nuclear weapons and opposes all military interventions by working to make global legislative bodies like the United Nations and the International Court of Justice the sole arbiters of international law. According to its self-description, LCNP: (a) "provides legal information and analysis to policy makers, diplomats, activists, and the media on disarmament and international law"; (b) "publishes books, articles and discussion papers for policy makers, lawyers, legal scholars and laypeople"; (c) "provides legal resources to individuals and organizations using law to work for disarmament"; and (d) "works through international diplomatic bodies, including the United Nations and the International Court of Justice, to promote peace and disarmament."
In numerous books, op-ed articles, and policy papers, LCNP's lawyers defend their proposed transposition of power from sovereign nations to "global" institutions on the grounds that such a course of action represents, in their analysis, the only hope for eliminating nuclear weapons from the earth. In 1995 the organization co-founded Abolition 2000, an international network of nuclear-abolition groups.
LCNP rejects the fundamental right of independent nations to so much as attempt to deter potential nuclear threats by recourse to military means. "The Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy categorically rejects war as the answer to real or suspected or imagined nuclear proliferation," states the LCNP website. In partnership with such groups as Parliamentarians for Global Action and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists, LCNP holds that the resolution of international disputes must become exclusively the function of global organizations.
After 9/11, LCNP attorneys demanded that the U.S. forswear any military response to the attacks. "What is needed at this juncture is the establishment of a global legal regime dealing specifically with terrorism," claimed LCNP Vice President Saul Mendlovitz, a professor of international law at Rutgers University, in the Fall 2001 issue of the LCNP's newsletter, BOMBS AWAY! Moreover, Mendlovitz insisted, the attacks "could—and should—lead to the establishment of a global police force."
LCNP's attorneys set about the task of discrediting, by means of legal arguments, the looming American military response. Claiming that lawyers must "swim against the tide of public opinion," LCNP President Peter Weiss, who was (along with his wife, Cora Weiss) a pro-Soviet activist during the Cold War, insisted that "[a] terrorist attack, no matter how heinous, committed by non-state actors, is not a casus belli, an 'act of war,' except in a metaphorical sense. It therefore cannot justify a state resorting to war against another state in response to the attack, unless the other state's responsibility for the attack has been unambiguously established." Weiss predicted that if the U.S. attacked Afghanistan, the result would be "a holy war ... and, if not the end of democracy as we know it, at least its diminution."
In the 2004 issue of Disarmament Forum, the journal of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Peter Weiss and John Burroughs jointly wrote: "[I]f there is one lesson that history teaches it is that social, economic, ethnic and religious differences can translate into feelings of powerlessness and give rise to violence—which the powerless call the search for justice and those at whom the violence is directed call terrorism."
LCNP is a member organization of the Abolition 2000 anti-war coalition, whose founding member David Krieger is an LCNP Director. Another notable LCNP Director is Alice Slater, who is President of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment. LCNP is also a member organization of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition.
LCNP has received financial support from the Samuel Rubin Foundation, whose President and Treasurer are Cora Weiss and Peter Weiss, respectively.