Friday, April 25, 2014
Marshall Islands Sues Nine States Over Nuclear Programs at ICJ
Yesterday, April 24, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed suit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against nine states for their alleged failure to comply with their obligations with respect to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament. The nine states named as respondents are: China, Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Three of the states have accepted the ICJ's compulsory jurisdiction: India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom For the remaining six states, the Marshall Islands has requested that they consent to ICJ jurisdiciton over this dispute pursuant to Article 38(5) of the ICJ's Rules of Court, which reads:
"When the applicant State proposes to found the jurisdiction of the Court upon a consent thereto yet to be given or manifested by the State against which such application is made, the application shall be transmitted to that State. It shall not however be entered in the General List, nor any action be taken in the proceedings, unless and until the State against which such application is made consents to the Court’s jurisdiction for the purposes of the case."
The U.K. is the only State over which the ICJ currently has jurisdiction that is also a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). (China, France, Russia, and the U.S. are also parties to the NPT.) The Marshall Islands alleges that the U.K. and the other States have violated Article VI of the NPT, which provides that: "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." With respect to India and Pakistan, the Marshall Islands claims that the principles set out in Article VI of the NPT reflect customary international law and are binding as such on non-treaty parties as well.
By way of relief, the Marshall Islands requests the ICJ to order the Respondents to take all steps necessary to comply with their obligations under international law with respect to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and nuclear disarmament within one year of the Judgment, including the pursuit, by initiation if necessary, of negotiations in good faith aimed at the conclusion of a convention on nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.
More information may be found at the ICJ website.