By Jay Yu, Channel NewsAsia
Published: 19 Mar 2019 - 09:51 PM
The ICJ discussed some of the treaties concerning the use of Nuclear Technology.
Nuclear Technology is one of the most powerful and dangerous technology to ever be created. Nuclear technology brings the whole world into the picture, as it can destabilize all of the global peace with its indubitable power. As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the legality and use of nuclear weapons automatically fall to the ICJ, as the ICJ acts as a world court, to pass jurisdiction over the matter.
The first problem that appeared imminent was that the judges could not see eye to eye on which treaties held priority and were to be discussed first. Some judges believed that the treaties before 1996 are of higher importance and should be discussed first.
Judge Iwasawa of Japan strongly encouraged the other judges to discuss the treaties before 1996, because it held significant importance and there were many flaws in the treaty. However, other judges such as Judge Sepulveda Amor of the United Mexican States expressed that discussing the treaties before 1996 were a waste of time and that the council should focus on the newer treaties after 1996.
An unmoderated caucus was called for and a simple majority was reached where the judges agreed that the council should consider the treaties before 1996 to be of higher priority.
Following the unmoderated caucus, the council discussed some treaties, mainly the Geneva Protocol following the Internal Humanitarian Law and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Judge Iwasawa of Japan raised the flaws of the treaties into question. The judge conveyed that there were many uncertainties and dangerous flaws that the ICJ did not cover when passing judgement over the legality of the use of nuclear weapons. For example, from the judgement passed by the ICJ, many of the court’s arrived conclusions were left unclear. Firstly, the delegate pointed out the ICJ’s inability to properly define what the lawful use of nuclear weaponry was. Quoted from the court, it “cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake”. The ICJ also failed to explain and justify what “extreme circumstance of self-defence” represents, and this could lead to countries’ misinterpretation of an extreme circumstance which in turn leads to countries being more susceptible to use nuclear technology. After all, if no definition was set for “extreme circumstance of self-defence”, they can justify their own extreme circumstance and fire off nuclear weapons at will. This point was considered valid by other judges and mutually agreed on.
The other judges continued to recapitulate how the ICJ must define succinctly what “self-defence” represents. If the boundaries and realms of the usage of nuclear weapons were to be unclear, heavy consequences such as higher likelihood to resort to nuclear weaponry when settling global disputes will potentially arise.
As the session came to a close, all judges had managed to reach a compromise that the ICJ must properly define and reconsider the previous judgement they had passed on the legality and use of nuclear weapons. The legal and unlawful use of nuclear weapons must be stated explicitly in order to better control the use of nuclear technology globally and stop potential disasters that may arise with the misinterpretation of the judgement.
Picture of Nuclear effect on an area, showing the devastating consequences of the nuclear weapon usage should a nuclear weapon be fired because the judgement passed by the ICJ is unclear.