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Did Nuclear Testing break the Nuremberg Code?


The Nuremberg code contains a set of ten points entitled ‘Permissable Medical Experiments’. The ten include such principles as informed consent and absence of coercion; properly formulated scientific experimentation; and beneficence towards experiment participants. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.


Let us analyse the ten points:


1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.


This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.


This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration and purpose of the hazards reasonable to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.


NUMBER ONE - BROKEN




2. The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.


NUMBER TWO - BROKEN



3. The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.


NUMBER THREE - BROKEN


4. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.


NUMBER FOUR - BROKEN


5. No experiment should be conducted where there is a prior reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.


The Prime Ministers letter in the UK confirms that they already knew that injuries may occur.


NUMBER FIVE – BROKEN


6. The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.


The experiments were for political purposes.


NUMBER SIX – BROKEN


7. Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the

experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death.


The Buffalo Indoctrine force were forced into ground zero, along with many other soldiers, especially in the Nevada desert, who were forced to march towards the explosion. The Enewetak cleanup crews were placed in great danger.


NUMBER SEVEN – BROKEN


8. The experiment should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons. The highest degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who conduct or engage in the experiment.


The experiments were carried out by Skilled persons, but they did not know the outcomes or yield sizes. How much care was taken?


NUMBER EIGHT – BROKEN


9. During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.


No serviceman had the chance to stop the experiments.


NUMBER NINE – BROKEN


10. During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith, superior skill and careful judgement required of him that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.


The governments knew the risks and the harm placed on the servicemen, yet continued to test.


NUMBER TEN – BROKEN




Conclusion


The Nuremberg Code has not been officially accepted as law by any nation or as official ethics guidelines by any association. In fact, the Code's reference to Hippocratic duty to the individual patient and the need to provide information was not initially favoured by the American Medical Association.


The Western world initially dismissed the Nuremberg Code as a "code for barbarians" and not for civilised physicians and investigators. Additionally, the final judgement did not specify whether the Nuremberg Code should be applied to cases such as political prisoners, convicted felons, and healthy volunteers. The lack of clarity, the brutality of the unethical medical experiments, and the uncompromising language of the Nuremberg Code created an image that the Code was designed for singularly egregious transgressions.


However, the Code is considered to be the most important document in the history of clinical research ethics, which had a massive influence on global human rights. The Nuremberg Code and the related Declaration of Helsinki are the basis for the Code of Federal Regulations Title 45 Part 46, which are the regulations issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services for the ethical treatment of human subjects, and are used in Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).


In addition, the idea of informed consent has been universally accepted and now constitutes Article 7 of the United Nations' International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also served as the basis for International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects proposed by the World Health Organisation.


Article 7 prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. As with Article 6, it cannot be derogated from under any circumstances. The article is now interpreted to impose similar obligations to those required by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, including not just prohibition of torture, but active measures to prevent its use and a prohibition on refoulement. In response to Nazi human experimentation during WW2 this article explicitly includes a prohibition on medical and scientific experimentation without consent.


Our servicemen were experimented on by their governments for political gain. Their experiments damaged the world forever. It damaged the human race forever. They chose to break the Nuremberg code.


Just how much consent was given by the servicemen – None

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