- Association of anti-war lawyers determined to abolish nuclear weapons
- Aims to empower “global” bodies rather than sovereign nations
- Refers to terrorism as “the search for justice”
The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP) is a national, nonprofit educational association of attorneys and legal scholars who strive to help bring about the worldwide elimination of all nuclear weapons. The Committee also seeks – in partnership with such groups as Parliamentarians for Global Action and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists – to avert 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. Rejecting the fundamental right of independent nations to so much as attempt to deter potential nuclear threats by recourse to military means, LCNP “categorically rejects war as the answer to real or suspected or imagined nuclear proliferation.”
In an effort to advance its anti-nuclear, anti-national-sovereignty agendas and perspectives, LCNP: (a) “provide[s] legal and policy analysis to national and international policymakers, civil society, and media”; (b) “provide[s] legal assistance to individuals and organizations working for disarmament and peace”; and (c) publishes books, articles and discussion papers for policy makers, lawyers, legal scholars, and laypeople.
The onetime executive secretary of the National Lawyers Guild, Martin Popper (1909-1989), founded LCNP in 1981 as an outgrowth of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).
In 1997, LCNP and IALANA, in association with the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation, released a “Model Nuclear Weapons Convention” document calling for a prohibition on “the use, threat of use, possession, development, testing, deployment and transfer of nuclear weapons.” The document also demanded the implementation of “a phased program” for the elimination of such weapons “under effective international control.”
After the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, LCNP attorneys demanded that the U.S. forswear any possibility of a military response. Explaining that lawyers who were concerned about peace had a moral and professional duty to “swim against the tide of public opinion,” LCNP president Peter Weiss – who, along with his wife, Cora Weiss, had been 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.” Such an occurrence “therefore cannot justify a state resorting to war against another state in response to the attack,” Mr. Weiss added, “unless the other state’s responsibility for the attack has been unambiguously established.” Further, Weiss predicted that if the U.S. were to attack Afghanistan for having given safe haven to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the result would be “a holy war … and, if not the end of democracy as we know it, at least its diminution.”
“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 newsletter, BOMBS AWAY! Moreover, said Mendlovitz, the 9/11 attacks “could—and should—lead to the establishment of a global police force.”
In a 2004 paper which they co-authored, Peter Weiss and fellow LCNP official John Burroughs argued that terrorism is often a form of retaliation by comparatively weak populations against powerful nations that have oppressed them over a protracted time period: “[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 [which] those at whom the violence is directed call terrorism.” “There may never be a world without terrorism,” Weiss and Burroughs added. “But it is reasonable to expect that the closer the world comes to realizing the full panoply of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and the International Covenants, the closer it will be to freedom from terrorism, not least WMD terrorism.”
Over the years, LCNP has received considerable financial support from the Samuel Rubin Foundation, where Peter Weiss once served as treasurer (and where Cora Weiss was once president).
In March 2017 at the United Nations, LCNP Consultative Council member Jacqueline Cabasso delivered an NGO statement on behalf of the International Association Of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, emphasizing both “the illegality of use of nuclear weapons under existing law” and “the illegality of the threat of use of nuclear weapons under the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.” In a separate NGO statement, LCNP executive director John Burroughs argued in favor of a nuclear-weapons-ban treaty that would do away with the “grotesque regime of nuclear threat” that “we have been living with … since World War II.”
LCNP was formerly a member organization of the Abolition 2000 anti-war coalition, whose founding member David Krieger once served on LCNP’s Consultative Council. Another onetime LCNP officer was Alice Slater, who also served a stint as president of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (now called the GRACE Communications Foundation).
LCNP was also, at one time, a member organization of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition.