Arguments on Nuclear lawsuits heard at The Hague

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Rick Wayman reports from the International Court of Justice on proceedings.

The 15 judges listened with great interest as Tony de Brum, Co-Agent of the Marshall Islands, opened today’s session with a powerful personal story. He said:

Yesterday was a beautiful morning here in The Hague that featured a picture-perfect snowfall.  As a tropical State, the Marshall Islands has experienced ‘snow’ on one memorable and devastating occasion, the 1954 Bravo test of a thermonuclear bomb that was one-thousand times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb.  When that explosion occurred, there were many people, including children, who were a far distance from the bomb, on our atolls which, according to leading scientists and assurances, were predicted to be entirely safe.  In reality, within 5 hours of the explosion, it began to rain radioactive fallout at Rongelap. Within hours, the atoll was covered with a fine, white, powdered-like substance. No one knew it was radioactive fallout.  The children thought it was snow. And the children played in the snow. And they ate it.  So one can understand that snow, while beautiful, has a tragic and dark history in the Marshall Islands.

After hearing a strong case for jurisdiction and admissibility from the Marshall Islands legal team, the Court brought the hearings in this phase of RMI vs. Pakistan to a close. The judges will now deliberate in private before delivering their judgement at a public sitting at a date to be announced. Today’s ICJ press release has a more detailed explanation of the deliberation process.

Tomorrow morning, the United Kingdom will present opening arguments in the RMI vs. United Kingdom nuclear disarmament case. The hearings will be livestreamed on the ICJ website starting at 10:00 am CET.

The International Court of Justice located at the Peace Palace at The Hague, Netherlands, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.

The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.