CCPR General Comment No. 14: Nuclear weapons and the right to life

CCPR General Comment No. 14: Nuclear weapons and the right to life is a commentary made by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which enunciates the right to life of all human beings.  The comment was written in 1984 and expands upon this right to life to include those endangered by war, other armed conflicts, and, in particular, nuclear weapons.  It is essentially a set of recommendations directed towards the United Nations and its member states.


Goal: The goal of the Comment is to protect the human right to life from Weapons of Mass Destruction and to call […] upon all States, whether Parties to the Covenant or not, to take urgent steps, unilaterally and by agreement, to rid the world of this [nuclear weapons] menace […]


Relevant Clauses[1]


          2. […]it is the supreme duty of States to prevent wars[…]


3. […] representatives from all geographical regions have expressed their growing concern at the development and proliferation of increasingly awesome weapons of mass destruction, which not only threaten human life but also absorb resources that could otherwise be used for vital economic and social purposes, particularly for the benefit of developing countries, and thereby for promoting and securing the enjoyment of human rights for all.


4. The Committee associates itself with this concern.  It is evident that the designing, testing, manufacture, possession and deployment of nuclear weapons are among the greatest threats to the right to life which confront mankind today.  This threat is compounded by the danger that the actual use of such weapons may be brought about, not only in the event of war, but even through human or mechanical error or failure.


5. Furthermore, the very existence and gravity of this threat generates a climate of suspicion and fear between States, which is in itself antagonistic to the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the International Covenants on Human Rights.


6. The production, testing, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons should be prohibited and recognized as crimes against humanity.

[1]United Nations Human Rights Committee (1984). General Comment No. 14: Nuclear weapons and the right to life. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from United Nations Human Rights Website: