THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS: The United Nations highest court on Wednesday threw out a bid by tiny Marshall Islands to sue Pakistan for ‘failing to halt the nuclear arms race’, moments after rejecting a similar case against India.
‘The court upholds the objection to jurisdiction raised by Pakistan based on the absence of a dispute between the two parties,’ judge Ronny Abraham told the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and ‘cannot proceed to the merits of the case.’
The tiny Pacific island nation was ground zero for a string of nuclear tests on its pristine atolls between 1946-58, carried out by the United States as the Cold War arms race gathered momentum.
So the country of 55,000 people maintains it can testify with authority about the devastating impact of such arms.
Initially in 2014, Majuro accused nine countries of failing to comply with the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which seeks to inhibit the spread of atomic bombs.
But the International Court of Justice (ICJ) set up in The Hague in 1945 to rule on disputes between states will only determine whether it is competent to hear three cases – against Britain, India and Pakistan.
The other countries – China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia and the United States – have not recognised the court’s jurisdiction. Israel has also never formally admitted to having nuclear weapons.
The Marshall Islands maintained that by not stopping the nuclear arms race Britain, India and Pakistan continued to breach their obligations under the treaty – even if New Delhi and Islamabad have not signed the pact.
The treaty commits all nuclear weapon states ‘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.’ NNI