13 May 2014
Every year since the International Court of Justice’s 1996 Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, the UN General Assembly has adopted by a large majority a follow-up resolution. Each resolution reiterates that ‘the continuing existence of nuclear weapons poses a threat to humanity and all life on Earth’, and underlines ‘the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control’. The ICJ derived this obligation from Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which provides that
[e]ach 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.
On 24 April 2014 the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) instituted legal proceedings before the ICJ against nine nuclear weapons possessing states: France, India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, China, Russia and North Korea. (more…)