AN OPEN LETTER TO THE WORLD’S ENVIRONMENTAL MINISTERS
C. G. Weeramantry
Former Vice President, International Court of Justice
President, International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms Founder Trustee, Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education & Research
The earthquake in Japan and the resulting damage to nuclear power plants have sent shock waves and a dire note of warning to the world’s entire population. Despite their obvious dangers, nuclear reactors are proliferating worldwide and sowing the seeds of pollution and congenital deformities for a thousand generations to come (the half life of Plutonium 239, one of the bi-products of nuclear activities is 24,100 years).
Unborn generations are just as much members of the human family as ourselves but have no voice to speak for themselves. We take advantage of this and are damaging them catastrophically by our breach of trust of this environment of which we are custodians and not owners. Every single citizen is a trustee of the environment. All the more are Governments trustees, and in particular the environmental ministers of the world bear a special responsibility in this regard. We are in default of our duties if we continue to keep open such possibilities and create more, despite our knowledge of their dreadful consequences. Our generation and particularly those who are specially entrusted with the care of the environment will have to answer before the bar of history for our default and abuse of trust. Indeed we are committing the gravest possible crime against future generations and are doing so with a full consciousness of the effects of our actions.
If people of the Stone Age had been able to cause damage to the environment and cause congenital deformities to our generation, we would have condemned them as savages, brutes and barbarians. Yet, even if they could have caused such damage, they could have had no idea of the irreparable harm they were causing to generations yet unborn. We, on the other hand, who are fully aware of the catastrophic damage we are causing to unborn generations, still proceed regardless, pursuing activities which, it is patently clear, will release these dangers sooner or later. We continue to build nuclear reactors all over the world.
Even a school child is aware that no power on earth can insure against earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, insurrections, negligent management and other disasters. These will inevitably occur over a period of years and not only do we know this as a virtual certainty, but we know also that there is no known means of eliminating them. This makes us savages, brutes and barbarians several times over. In a supposedly enlightened age, we are, with total disregard of any sense of responsibility, proceeding to build more reactors, pursuing short term advantages while being fully aware of the long term perils we are inflicting on our own posterity. Solar and other renewable energy sources provide all the energy the world needs but we neglect them, for there are great profits for those few who are engaged in the nuclear energy enterprise, whatever the costs to the vast majority and the generations yet to come.
As a result we have become the most destructive generation in all of human history, regardless of the fact that we are destroying the undoubted birthright of billions of human beings for whom we hold the environment on trust.
I take the liberty of addressing you on this matter as I have for over 30 years campaigned against the dangers of nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors and nuclear waste. As early as 1985, I toured the major cities of Japan at the instance of the Japan Scientists’ Association delivering lectures on the dire dangers to humanity resulting from nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors and nuclear waste.
Also, nearly thirty years ago, in The Slumbering Sentinels: Law and Human Rights in the Wake of Technology,...