Diplo­matic ally wins Swe­den’s ‘al­ter­na­tive No­bel prize’


Re­pub­lic of the Mar­shall Is­lands (RMI) For­eign Min­is­ter Tony de Brum and his na­tion were awarded the 2015 Right Liveli­hood Award yesterday for the le­gal strug­gles to make coun­tries ac­count­able to nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion.

De Brum and the RMI were awarded the 2015 prize for the “courage to take le­gal ac­tion against the nu­clear pow­ers for fail­ing to hon­our their dis­ar­ma­ment obli­ga­tions un­der the Nu­clear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty.” (NNPT) The Mar­shall Is­lands is one of 22 states that have of­fi­cial diplo­matic re­la­tions with the R.O.C.

Three other lau­re­ates who will share the cash prize of three mil­lion kro­ner ( ap­prox­i­mately NT$11.8 mil­lion) are Sheila Wat­tClouthier a pro­tec­tor of Inuit in­dige­nous cul­ture (Canada), Kasha Nabage­sera, an ad­vo­cate for LGBTI peo­ple ( Uganda) and Gino Strada founder of a med­i­cal ser­vices or­ga­ni­za­tion to help vic­tims of con­flict (Italy). The prize cer­e­mony will be held in the Swedish Par­lia­ment on Nov. 30.

Last year, the Right Liveli­hood Award Foun­da­tion awarded Ed­ward Snow­den of the United States for re­veal­ing the ex­ten­sive state sur­veil­lance sys­tems in place “vi­o­lat­ing ba­sic demo­cratic pro­cesses and con­sti­tu­tional rights.”

De Brum, who has served as the coun­try’s min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, filed law­suits against all nine nu­clear weapons states (in­clud­ing China, France, In­dia, Is­rael, North Korea, Pak­istan, Rus­sia, the United King­dom and the United States) in the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice (ICJ) in 2014.

“(De Brum) has pi­o­neered the law­suit against nu­clear weapons states for not ful­fill­ing their obli­ga­tions to dis­arm. He is also very ac­tive on coun­ter­ing the cli­mate threat. His is­land na­tion is of course ex­cep­tion­ally threat­ened by a warm­ing planet,” said Jakob van Uexkull, founder of the award.

As a boy, De Brum wit­nessed many of the 67 atomic and ther­monu­clear weapons tests con­ducted near the is­lands dur­ing the Cold War by the U.S. The “Nu­clear Zero” law­suits headed by De Brum and an in­ter­na­tional le­gal group aim to bring ac­count­abil­ity to na­tions to ne­go­ti­ate in good faith to­ward nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment as stip­u­lated un­der the NPT and cus­tom­ary in­ter­na­tional law.

The law­suit re­quests that the ICJ holds nu­clear power states in breach of their obli­ga­tions to­ward nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment. It or­ders them ( within a year of judg­ment) to take all nec­es­sary steps to com­ply with treaty obli­ga­tions, in­clud­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions to con­clude ef­fec­tive in­ter­na­tional treaties on nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial web­site of the le­gal ac­tion “Nu­clear Zero”, the nine states with nu­clear arms have a com­bined stock­pile of 17,000 war­heads and spend US$100 bil­lion an­nu­ally on nu- clear ar­ma­ments. This in­cludes in­vest­ment in weapon mod­ern­iza­tion and plans to con­tinue nu­clear weapon de­ploy­ment up to the end of this cen­tury.

China, which be­came a nu­clear power in 1964, has an es­ti­mated stock­pile of 250 nu­clear war­heads ac­cord­ing to the ap­pli­ca­tion filed against it by De Brum and his le­gal team. Ac­cord­ing to 2013 es­ti­mates, the sec­ond largest world econ­omy ex­pends five per­cent of its mil­i­tary bud­get on its nu­clear weapons pro­gram (ap­prox­i­mately US$4.5 to 9 mil­lion).

Of the nine coun­tries in­volved in the suits, In­dia, Is­rael, North Korea and Pak­istan are not par­i­ties to the NPT. Tai­wan abides by the NPT de­spite hav­ing been forced out of the United Na­tions in 1971.

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