CCPR General Comment No. 14: Article 6 (Right to Life)
Nuclear Weapons and the Right to Life
Adopted at the Twenty-third Session of the Human Rights Committee,
on 9 November 1984
In its General comment No. 6  adopted at its 378th meeting on 27 July
1982, the Human Rights Committee observed that the right to life enunciated in the
first paragraph of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
is the supreme right from which no derogation is permitted even in time of public
emergency. The same right to life is enshrined in article 3 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations
on 10 December 1948. It is basic to all human rights.
In its previous general comment, the Committee also observed that it is the
supreme duty of States to prevent wars. War and other acts of mass violence continue
to be a scourge of humanity and take the lives of thousands of innocent human beings
While remaining deeply concerned by the toll of human life taken by
conventional weapons in armed conflicts, the Committee has noted that, during
successive sessions of the General Assembly, 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.
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.
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
The production, testing, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons
should be prohibited and recognized as crimes against humanity.
The Committee accordingly, in the interest of mankind, calls upon all States,
whether Parties to the Covenant or not, to take urgent steps, unilaterally and by
agreement, to rid the world of this menace.