Historic Case: On March 7, Marshall Islanders Call on World Court to Enforce Global Nuclear Disarmament

March 6th, 2016 - by admin

Rick Wayman and Sandy Jones / Nuclear Age Peace Foundation & Jackie Cabasso / International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons – 2016-03-06 23:52:02


Oral Hearings on the Marshall Islands’
Nuclear Disarmament Cases to Begin at
The International Court of Justice

Rick Wayman and Sandy Jones / Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

(March 2, 2016) — On March 7, 2016, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the world’s highest court, will begin hearings in The Hague, Netherlands, on the preliminary objections raised by the United Kingdom (UK), India and Pakistan in the nuclear disarmament cases brought by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

The purpose of the hearings is for the Court to determine whether any legal obstacles prevent the cases from going forward to consideration on their merits.

These unprecedented lawsuits were submitted by the RMI to the ICJ on April 24, 2014. They aim to hold the nine nuclear-armed states (US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) accountable for violating international law by failing to respect their nuclear disarmament obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.

The RMI, a tiny island nation in the Pacific, was used for 12 years, from 1946 to 1958, as a testing ground for nuclear bombs by the United States. Sixty-seven nuclear weapons were tested and the health and environmental effects of those tests still plague the Marshall Islanders to this day. The destructive power of the 1954 “Castle Bravo” nuclear test was 1,000 times greater than the bomb that destroyed the city of Hiroshima, Japan.

Tony de Brum, former Marshall Islands Foreign Minister and Co-Agent in the cases, said, “I have seen with my very own eyes nuclear devastation and know with conviction that nuclear weapons must never again be visited upon humanity.

Nuclear weapons are a senseless threat to survival and there are basic norms that compel those who possess them to pursue and achieve their elimination. This is the subject of legal action by my country at the International Court of Justice.”

Only the UK, India and Pakistan are appearing before the Court, since only they accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. China, the US, Russia, France, Israel and North Korea have chosen to ignore the ICJ cases.

The UK case differs from the cases of India and Pakistan in that the UK is a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and therefore is bound by Article VI of that treaty which requires states to pursue negotiations “in good faith” to end the nuclear arms race and achieve total nuclear disarmament. The Marshall Islands contends that India and Pakistan are bound by similar obligations under customary international law.

“From a legal perspective, the issues presented by these cases are ordinary ones, but a positive outcome will, spectacularly, change the world. We are, basically, asking the Court to tell the respondent states to live up to their obligations under international law and to conduct negotiations leading to the required result: nuclear disarmament in all its aspects,” said Phon van den Biesen, attorney at law in Amsterdam, Co-Agent for the RMI who is leading the International Legal Team.

With these cases the RMI asks the International Court of Justice to follow up on its earlier findings in the Advisory Opinion it delivered in 1996 on the illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. At the time the Court considered that the continued international debate on the legality of these deadly weapons threatens the stability of the international order.

It added that “the long-promised complete nuclear disarmament appears to be the most appropriate means” to put an end to that untenable situation. (para. 98)

World leaders, international non-governmental organizations, world-class experts and Nobel Peace Laureates have offered strong support for the cases, denouncing nuclear weapons as immoral and illegal. (http://nuclearzero.org/#lastone).

Contact information for the International Legal Team:
Phon van den Biesen, Co-Agent of the RMI, Attorney at Law at Van den Biesen Kloostra Advocaten, Amsterdam

A complete list of the International Legal Team as well as information on the lawsuits can be found at www.nuclearzero.org. The California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is consultant to the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Stand with the Marshall Islands —
Nuclear Disarmament Heroes

Jackie Cabasso / International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons

(March 6, 2016) — From 1948-1956 the United States detonated 67 nuclear weapons test explosions over the Marshall Islands, a tiny nation in the South Pacific. During this period, the equivalent of 1.7 Hiroshima-sized bombs were detonated daily.

Several islands were vaporized, others will remain uninhabitable for thousands of years. Many Marshallese died, babies were born with birth defects never seen before, and residents of the islands are still battling with cancers and other radiation-related diseases.

From March 7-16 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the judicial branch of the United Nations, will hear oral arguments in the Marshall Islands’ cases against the UK, India and Pakistan.*

The cases concern whether the UK is complying with Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and whether India and Pakistan are complying with what the Marshall Islands contends, building on the 1996 ICJ opinion, is a customary international law obligation to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament, including cessation of the nuclear arms race.

Tony DeBrum, former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands will be making opening statements on behalf of the Marshall Islands on Monday and Tuesday.

These hearings concern preliminary issues as to whether the cases are suitable for adjudication on the merits. While the cases will concern preliminary issues, the substance of the cases will certainly come up in various ways.

I will be in The Hague, working with Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation to support the Marshall Islands by doing media outreach and social media. Here’s how you can follow the hearings from wherever you are.

Please help spread the word
Sign up to receive Rick’s daily updates: https://www.wagingpeace.org/sign-up-to-get-daily-email-updates-from-the-hague/https://www.wagingpeace.org/sign-up-to-get-daily-email-updates-from-the-hague/

Follow me on Twitter @JackieCabasso and retweet. I’ll be live tweeting, using the hashtag #NuclearZero

Like and share my Facebook posts at https://www.facebook.com/WesternStatesLegalFoundation/https://www.facebook.com/WesternStatesLegalFoundation/

Watch the hearings for yourself. Video webcasts will broadcast live and posted on the International Court of Justice website at : http://www.icj-cij.org/multimediawww.icj-cij.org/multimedia

For more information about the cases see www.nuclearzero.org

If you’re in nearby Europe, please consider coming to The Hague to support the Marshall Islands by your presence in the courtroom. Three press releases issued by the ICJ (one for each of the cases) provide the hearing schedule and admission procedures to the court. There is no advance registration procedure

Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom

Marshall Islands v. Pakistan

Marshall Islands v. India

*You may be wondering why only three cases only are going forward. In April 2014, the Marshall Islands filed lawsuits against all nine nuclear-armed states. Regrettably, the United States, Russia, China, France, Israel and North Korea do not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ and are ignoring the cases brought against them.

Jacqueline Cabasso is the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation Working for Peace & Justice in a Nuclear Free World www.wslfweb.org www.disarmamentactivist.org www.facebook.com/WesternStatesLegalFoundation


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