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Français

Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom)

Overview of the case

On 24 April 2014, the Marshall Islands filed a number of Applications, including one against the United Kingdom. It accuses the latter of not fulfilling its obligations relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.

The Marshall Islands contends more specifically that the United Kingdom is in breach of Article VI of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which they are both party. According to this Article, each party “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”.

The Applicant further accuses the United Kingdom, inter alia, of opposing United Nations General Assembly resolutions calling for such negotiations to begin; engaging in “negative and obstructive” conduct with regard to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date; and repeatedly declaring its intention to rely on its nuclear arsenal for decades to come.

By an Order of 16 June 2014, the Court fixed 16 March 2015 and 16 December 2015 as the respective time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by the Marshall Islands and a Counter- Memorial by the United Kingdom.

On 15 June 2015, i.e., within the three-month time-limit provided for in Article 79, paragraph 1, of the Rules of Court, the United Kingdom raised certain preliminary objections in the case. Under the provisions of Article 79, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court, the proceedings on the merits were consequently suspended and the President of the Court, by an Order dated 19 June 2015, fixed 15 October 2015 as the time-limit within which the Marshall Islands might present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by the United Kingdom.

After holding hearings from 9 to 16 March 2016, the Court delivered its Judgment on the preliminary objections raised by the United Kingdom on 5 October 2016, finding that the United Kingdom’s first preliminary objection must be upheld. It further concluded that, lacking jurisdiction under Article 36, paragraph 2, of its Statute, it cannot proceed to the merits of the case. Given this conclusion, the Court found no need to consider the other preliminary objections raised by the United Kingdom.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Written proceedings

Preliminary Objections of the United Kingdom

15 June 2015
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
English French

Statement of observations of the Marshall Islands

15 October 2015
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
English French

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 2016/3

Public sitting held on Wednesday 9 March 2016, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case regarding Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) - Preliminary Objections
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2016/5

Public sitting held on Friday 11 March 2016, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case regarding Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom)
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2016/7

Public sitting held on Monday 14 March 2016, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case regarding Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom)
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2016/9

Public sitting held on Wednesday 16 March 2016, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case regarding Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Other documents

Orders

Order of 16 June 2014

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 19 June 2015

Fixing of time-limit: written statement of observations and submissions on preliminary objections
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 2016/5

Summary of the Judgment of 5 October 2016
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 2014/21

19 June 2014
Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) - Fixing of time-limits for the filing of initial pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 2015/16

23 June 2015
Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) - Fixing of the time-limit for the filing by the Republic of the Marshall Islands of a written statement on the preliminary objections raised by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Available in:
English French

Press release 2016/3

29 January 2016
Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) - Preliminary objections - The Court to hold public hearings from Wednesday 9 March to Wednesday 16 March 2016
Available in:
English French

Press release 2016/7

16 March 2016
Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) - Conclusion of public hearings on the preliminary objections raised by the United Kingdom
Available in:
English French

Press release 2016/31

5 October 2016
Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) - The Court upholds the first preliminary objection to jurisdiction raised by the United Kingdom, based on the absence of a dispute between the Parties, and finds that it cannot proceed to the merits of the case
Available in:
English French