#NuclearZero at the ICJ: Our Daily Summaries of the Hearings

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#NuclearZero at the ICJ: Our Daily Summaries of the Hearings

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Photograph: CIJ-ICJ/UN-ONU, Capital Photos/Frank van Beek – Courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved.

Rick Wayman, NAPF’s Director of Programs, attended all seven days of hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament cases against India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Below you will find links to each day’s report, published by the Pressenza International Press Agency. For more information about the Marshall Islands’ lawsuits, visit www.nuclearzero.org.

Preview: The Marshall Islands at the ICJ — “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, Co-Agent for the RMI and attorney at law in Amsterdam, who is leading the International Legal Team.

Day One: Marshall Islands Shines Against India — It was an historic day at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as oral arguments in the first-ever contentious cases on nuclear disarmament began at the ICJ. The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) argued strongly in favor of the ICJ holding jurisdiction in the case that the RMI has brought against India.

Day Two: Where Is Pakistan? — Pakistan chose not to participate in oral arguments at the case against it at the International Court of Justice. On 8 March, the Marshall Islands presented its case to the Court. Marshall Islands Co-Agent Tony de Brum recounted the only “snowfall” the Marshall Islands had ever experienced — the radioactive fallout after the 1 March 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test.

Day Three: What Is the Sound of One Hand Clapping? — In its opening pleadings on 9 March, Sir Daniel Bethlehem told the Court, “The United Kingdom had thought, although naively, as it now appears, that we had a strong record on nuclear disarmament.”

Day Four: Aspirational Rhetoric vs. Real Actions — India pleaded to the Court on 10 March that it is, in fact, deeply committed to nuclear disarmament because it consistently votes in favor of various disarmament resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly. Its active involvement in the nuclear arms race, though, tells a different story.

Day Five: Everybody’s Doing It — In the Marshall Islands’ first session of oral arguments in the case against the United Kingdom on 11 March, Phon van den Biesen, Co-Agent of the Marshall Islands, outlined how the UK is not only not engaged in nuclear disarmament negotiations, but “on the contrary it is and continues to be opposed to such negotiations.”

Day Six (Part One): Contempt of Court — In the Marshall Islands’ final round of oral argument against India on 14 March, Phon van den Biesen told the Court that India’s active participation in the nuclear arms race – including a test-launch of its K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile on 7 March (the first day of the ICJ hearings) – could be described as “contempt of court.”

Day Six (Part Two): Appealing to Sentiment — In the United Kingdom’s final round of oral argument on 14 March, Sir David Bethlehem told the Court that the Marshall Islands was simply “appealing to sentiment” by recounting its experience as a test site for 67 U.S. nuclear weapons tests, and that the cases should be dismissed.

Day Seven: Making a Big Fuss —  In closing arguments at the International Court of Justice, RMI Co-Agent Tony de Brum asked the Court “to adjudge and declare that the Court has jurisdiction over the claims of the Marshall Islands submitted in its Application of 24 April 2014; and to adjudge and declare that the Marshall Islands’ claims are admissible.”


Rick Wayman
Rick Wayman
Rick Wayman is Director of Programs & Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.