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International Court of Justice rejects landmark Marshall Islands nuclear case via Daily Sabah

By the tightest possible margin, the United Nations’ highest court on Wednesday rejected three nuclear disarmament cases filed by the tiny Pacific Ocean nation of the Marshall Islands against Britain, India and Pakistan, saying it did not have jurisdiction.

In a blow to disarmament activists, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Marshall Islands failed to prove that a legal dispute over disarmament existed between it and the three nuclear powers before the case was filed in 2014, and that “consequently the court lacks jurisdiction.”

The 16-judge bench at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled there was no evidence that Majuro had had a prior dispute with any of the three nuclear giants or sought bilateral negotiations on the issue.

“The court upholds the objection to jurisdiction” raised by each of the countries, presiding judge Ronny Abraham said in separate rulings, and therefore the tribunal “cannot proceed to the merits of the case.”

It took a casting vote by the court’s President Ronny Abraham’s to break an eight-eight deadlock between the court’s 16 judges on the question of jurisdiction.
[…]
Obviously it’s very disappointing,” Marshall Islands lawyer Phon van der Biesen told reporters.

“If the court keeps creating this sort of threshold, what is the court for?” he said. “It’s a dispute that is clear to all of the world except for eight judges here.”

Initially in 2014, Majuro had accused nine countries of failing to comply with the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which seeks to inhibit the spread of atomic bombs.

The country originally filed cases against all nine nations that have declared or are believed to possess nuclear weapons: The U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. But only the cases against Britain, India and Pakistan got to the preliminary stage of proceedings, as the ICJ already refused to take up cases against the other countries which do not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

Israel has also never formally admitted to having nuclear weapons.

The Marshall Islands had argued that by not stopping the nuclear arms race Britain, India and Pakistan had breached obligations under the treaty — even if New Delhi and Islamabad have not signed the pact.

[…]
The so-called “Operation Castle” tests in March and April 1954 were particularly devastating and resulted in massive contamination because of the nuclear fall-out.

“The entire sky turned blood-red,” said deBrum, who witnessed the explosion of the largest-ever US-built nuclear device called “Castle Bravo” as a nine-year-old boy.

[…]
Experts however say the islands hoped the three cases before the ICJ will thrust nuclear disarmament talks, which have stalled over the past two decades, back into the spotlight.
[…]

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