- ICJ: Structure Functions
- Marshal Islands case against India @ICJ
- Marshall Island’s Arguments:
- What next for nuclear states?
Mock Q. Write a note on the structure and functions of ICJ. Why has Marshall Islands filled a case against India in ICJ? (200 words)
- The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the main judicial organ of the United Nations.
- Setup under UN Charter of 1945.
- Permanent seat at Hague, Netherlands
- Has its own international secretariat, outside UN Secretariat.
- Official court languages: French and English.
- Total 15
- elected for nine year term
- By UN General Assembly + UNSC. Must get absolute majority at both bodies.
- eligible for re-election
- Settle legal disputes submitted by States.
- As such, its Judgment is final. No mechanism for further appeal. But ultimately judgment has to be enforced by UNSC, therefore it is possible to veto ICJ judgments.
- Advices UN and its special agencies on legal questions referred to it.
Marshall Islands case
- After WW2, USA had setup a military base in Marshall Islands in Pacific to test nuclear and hydrogen bombs.
- This led to ecological destruction, and radiation contamination on the islands and its residents.
- 2014: Marshall Island government filed a case in ICJ against the nine nuclear weapon states alleging they’ve continued nuclear race and did not begin nuclear disarmament despite obligations under NPT.
- Though India, Pakistan, Israel & N.Korea are not parties to NPT, they’re also included in the case, on the argument that disarmament provision of NPT apply to all nations as a customary international law.
- ICJ = World court. Do not confuse it with ICC– International criminal court. We’ve already seen ICC structure functions two years ago click me
- Do not confuse between official languages of ICJ vs UN.
|Working language||Same as above|
ICJ is the only principle organ of UN that is not @New York.
(Interview Q.) Why has Marshall Island filled a case against India and other countries @International court of justice?
Marshall Islands Located @Micronesia group of Islands in Pacific Ocean.
|Before WW1||German Colony|
|After WW1||Japanese Colony|
|After WW2||USA Military Base. Later ran under “Trusteeship of UN”|
|1991||Finally joined UN as a free country.|
What is their problem?
- From 1946 to 1958, USA conducted 67 nuclear tests on these islands
- Even destroyed one of the islands by testing a hydrogen bomb.
- Consequently, Marshall Islands became one of the most contaminated sites in the world
- April 2014: filed a case in International Court of Justice (ICJ) against nine nuclear weapon states viz.
|Parties to NPT||Non-parties to NPT|
Collectively these nine nations have >17000 nuclear warheads.
- 1970: NPT came into force. It provides
- Non-nuclear states will not acquire nuclear weapons
- Nuclear states will aim for disarmament.
- But those who signed NPT, haven’t stopped nuclear arms race or started nuclear disarmament. Thus, they’ve breached NPT Article 6.
- Yes, India, Pakistan, Israel and N.Korea have not signed NPT, but still, the “disarmament” provision of NPT also apply to them as a customary international law. Yet, by continuing nuclear arms race, they too have breached the international law.
- Besides, India, Pakistan and UK have accepted compulsory jurisdiction of ICJ. Hence they’re answerable in this court irrespective of whether they’re party of NPT or not.
- We don’t want any compensation.
- We only want the ICJ court to order those 9 nation to begin nuclear disarmament.
- Those 9 countries will have to prove in court they’re committed towards nuclear disarmament, otherwise ICJ might pronounce a legally binding verdict on disarmament.
- But, Israel already stated we are not party to NPT, this case has no “legs”. India/ Pak may take the same line.
- India has accepted ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction. But only with respect to multilateral treaties. But since we are not party to NPT, ICJ cannot exercise jurisdiction over us.
- North Korea may not even bother sending lawyer to defend themselves @ICJ.
- China may even say NPT has been extended to infinite time, there is no ‘deadline’ to begin disarmament.
- USA and Russia might argue in the court, “we’re sincerely taking steps for nuclear disarmament viz.
- Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) of 1970s
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) from 2010