Law stands on hollow ground where a solid moral conviction is absent. On the contrary, a gap in law is often just a mirror through which we are impelled to gaze into our own ambivalent souls. And so it is the case with nuclear weapons. – Dr . Nobuo Hayashi, University of Oslo
The intersection of law and morality became a central theme at the third conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (HINW) . Following the previous two conferences in Oslo and Nayarit in providing irrefutable evidence about the devastating consequences and risks of the use of nuclear weap- ons, the Vienna conference went on to explore the corresponding normative framework governing these weapons .
The “inescapable conclusions” noted by the Austrian government in its Pledge at the end of the conference included the conviction that nuclear weapons raise profound moral and ethical questions that go beyond debates about their legality and that efforts are needed now to stigmatise, prohibit, and eliminate these weapons of terror .
These conclusions provide the basis for the Austrian Pledge to “fill the legal gap” for prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons . They also provide the framework for all states and civil society to move forward from this resounding turning point in the history of the nuclear weapons debate .