International Court of Justice Decision over Nuclear Weapons

On July 8, 1996, the international court of justice also known as the world court decided on a question on whether the threat or the use of nuclear weapons was permitted under international law. The International Court of Justice ruled that the use of such weapons is illegal and therefore, not permitted under any matter of circumstances. Yet, after this ruling was made it did not gather the attention everyone had expected (Hunt).

Two years after the ruling Pakistan and India both achieved to have nuclear weapons for the purpose of self-defense against each other. However, the major players in this nuclear game are the United States and the Federation of Russia making the threat of Pakistan and India seem minimal. The ruling of the court shows that the debate is rule by the law and that the court has the final say in matter of international law (Hunt). What are the basic arguments for and against the use of nuclear weapons in self-defense?

There are several reasons for the use of nuclear weapons as much for the use against it, however, the court did not decide definitively on the threat or use of nuclear weapons being unlawful or lawful in the extreme circumstances of self defense, in which allows for the very survival of the state. But, it is the obligation of every state to pursue in good faith negotiations leading to disarmament under effective international control (Hunt).

One of the arguments defending the use of nuclear weapons is again for the purpose of states survival. However, the court emphasize that the use of nuclear weapons is under international law but more importantly under the humanitarian law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty prohibiting possession but not the use. The court states that any use of nuclear weapons must take into account the effects of its use and also the use that it is likely to engender.

So any other used of nuclear weapons would be illegal (Hunt). The court sees nuclear weapons as special unique characteristics and the use of such are based by the principles and rules of laws in armed conflict. However, the court feels that it does not have enough evidence to encourage the use of it during the rules in armed conflict under any circumstances. Yet, during this decision the court is not willing to rule in favor or against the use of nuclear weapons even when it comes to matters of state survival.

The court’s opinion differs according to the fourteen judges who make up the panel, seven of them voted against a written paragraph for the description of when it is acceptable to use the nuclear weapons (Hunt). Re enforcing the idea that by all means the International Court of Justice condemns the use of nuclear weapons by any means possible continues to be the backbone of the ruling of the court in 1996.

The court fully supports the non-proliferation treaty and stands behind it in its efforts to disarm those trying to access nuclear weapons. As of now, the final authority in regards to international law is the International Court of Justice, even though countries have the right to disregard and ignore its suggestions, it continues to be a medium for conflicts in an international level.

Works Cited Hunt, Gaillard T. “The World Court and the Bomb” July 1996. 23 November 2006. <http://gthunt. com/icjop. htm/>.