The International Court of Justice Wednesday ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to handle Marshall Islands’ nuclear armament case against Britain, India and Pakistan.
The tiny Pacific island nation had originally brought in cases against all nine nations that are believed to have nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. However, only the cases against the three countries reached the next level proceedings as the other powers do not recognize the United Nations’ highest court’s jurisdiction on the matter.
The Court President Ronny Abraham said that there was no proof of a legal dispute between the nuclear powers and Marshall Islands and that there had been no attempt at bilateral negotiations on the issue. He ruled that “consequently the court lacks jurisdiction” and “cannot proceed to the merits of the case.”
The small country has a particular interest in nuclear disarmament as it has seen the horrors of the nukes up close. When it was under U.S. administration, the Marshall Islands served as Ground Zero for 67 American nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958 — at the Bikini and Enewetak Atoll. The 1954 “Bravo” hydrogen bomb that has been considered the most powerful one ever detonated by the U.S, was about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Following this, a large number of natives were forced to evacuate their ancestral lands and resettle elsewhere. Thousands more were exposed to radioactive material.
“Several islands in my country were vaporised and others are estimated to remain uninhabitable for thousands of years,” Tony deBrum, a former Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, was quoted as saying at an ICJ hearing earlier this year.
“The entire sky turned blood red. Many died, or suffered birth defects never before seen and cancers as a result of contamination,” said DeBrum, who watched one of the nuclear tests as a 9-year-old boy. He launched the ICJ action in 2014 with cooperation from the California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. In January, he was nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced on Friday.