We mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a woman whose devotion to justice brought into action a quote from Deuteronomy (16:20) which hung prominently in her office: Tzedek, Tzedek, Tidof: “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” In the Deuteronomy text this is preceded, “You shall not be partial in judgment; hear out low and high alike. Decide justly between the Israelite and the stranger alike. Take no bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. “
It is said in the Jewish tradition that a person who dies on the celebration of the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is a tzaddik, a person of righteousness and spiritual stature. (The word has the same roots as Tzedek). Justice Ginsburg died on Rosh Hashanah.
She was an unapologetic proponent of international law. In her presentation “A Decent Respect of the Opinions of [Human]kind”: The Value of a Comparative Perspective in Constitutional Adjudication, given at the International Academy of Comparative Law, American University July 30, 2010, she stated:
"The U. S. Constitution, in Article I, authorized Congress to define and punish 'Offences against the Law of Nations..."
"The law of nations, Chief Justice Marshall famously said in 1815, is part of the law of our land. Decisions of the courts of other countries, Marshall explained, show how the law of nations is understood elsewhere, and will be considered in determining the rule which is to prevail here…
"Decades later, in 1900, the U. S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that '[i]nternational law is part of our law and must be ascertained and administered by [our] courts of justice . . . "
In this context, it is worthwhile to remember the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice, the principle judicial organ of the United Nations, when it ruled unanimously, in its landmark decision regarding the threat or use of nuclear weapons, that “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control".
Through its programs, GSI committed to helping to fulfill the Court's decision.
We do our best to seek and follow persons whose practical wisdom and exemplary character can guide us. In this newsletter, we are pleased to highlight two videos with such persons: former Secretary of Defense of the United States, Dr. William Perry, and internationally renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall. GSI is very grateful for the work of Abe Wellington and the Opal Group for its excellent production of the presentation by Dr. Perry, and for the work in production of Peace and Pieces by the Jane Goodall Institute.
Also linked is an article on the role of Kazakhstan, and particularly its First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in advancing the end of nuclear testing and the elimination of nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan closed the nuclear weapons test cite of the Soviet Union in Semipalatinsk, while still part of the Soviet Union, putting into motion a testing moratorium with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that remains in place today. Significantly, at the end of the Cold War it relinquished over 1400 nuclear weapons and recently led in creating a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Central Asia.
It is worth noting that Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., a member of GSI’s Advisory Board, led the US in the negotiations to create the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to make the testing moratorium permanent. The Treaty was described by President Clinton when he signed it as “the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in arms control history.” It remains to be ratified by the US and several other nations to come into force. Let us all work together to accomplish this modest step while moving toward a safer, saner nuclear weapons free world.
And please, vote and get every one you know who cares about peace, security, the rule of law, science, values, and reason to do likewise.