Eleanor Mitchell

Was a Legal Intern at the Legal Division of the ICRC at time of writing.


  • Book review: Nuclear Weapons under International Law

    What are we really looking for in a new text on nuclear weapons? To some extent, it can rightly be said that all the key issues have been canvassed at some length in the (almost) two decades since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion).1 There have, however, been significant changes in the context against which these issues must be considered. Particularly notable are scientific advances, which have deepened our understanding of the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons (as highlighted at the recent conferences held on the subject), and technological advances, which have focused the legal debate on weapons of the “low-yield” or “tactical” variety.

  • The human costs and legal consequences of nuclear weapons under international humanitarian law

    The potential use of nuclear weapons has long been a global concern. This article highlights the principal rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) governing the conduct of hostilities applicable to nuclear weapons, and the issues and concerns that would arise were such weapons ever to be used again, in particular the severe and extensive consequences for civilians, civilian objects, combatants and the environment. In recent years, increased attention has been paid to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Based on what has been learned from extensive research on the humanitarian and environmental effects of nuclear weapons since they were first used in 1945, and the accompanying implications for IHL, it seems appropriate to conclude that the use of nuclear weapons in or near a populated area would amount to an indiscriminate attack and that there should also be a presumption of illegality with regard to the use of nuclear weapons outside such areas.

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