6 Oct 2016

ICJ rejects Marshalls' nuclear cases

10:51 am on 6 October 2016

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rejected three suits filed by the Marshall Islands against the world's nuclear powers that sought to force them to do more to disarm.

Nuclear test explosion at Bikini Atoll for Operation Crossroads, Marshall Islands, 1945/6

Nuclear test at Bikini Atoll for Operation Crossroads, Marshall Islands Photo: Supplied

India, Pakistan and Britain were brought to the court to answer the complaint at public hearings in April.

In its ruling in the country's cases against India and Pakistan, the court said it accepted arguments that the ICJ, should not have jurisdiction in the case.

Judges said that while the Marshalls may not be satisfied with progress on nuclear disarmament, it had failed to show that it any ongoing legal dispute with India and Pakistan was fit for the court to adjudicate.

A third suit against Britain was also rejected.

China, France, Russia and the United States, as well as undeclared nuclear states Israel and North Korea-did not respond to the suit the Marshall Islands filed last year.

The Marshall Islands was the site of dozens of atomic-bomb tests by the US after World War Two.

It had argued the nuclear powers failed to adhere to the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, by developing a new generation of weapons.

In 1996, at the request of the UN General Assembly, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion on nuclear weapons.

Besides finding them probably illegal unless possibly used in self defence, it also found that countries are obliged "to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects."

But the court ruled that given its lack of jurisdiction, it would not consider the Marshall Islands' arguments on their merits.

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