The little republic of Marshall Islands says the world’s 9 nuclear weapons states have violated obligations to negotiate in good faith to dismantle their nuclear arsenals.
Three of these – India, Pakistan and Britain are bound by previous commitments to respond to cases brought at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. India was the first to be heard followed by Pakistan and Britain, who all say the claim is beyond the jurisdiction of the court in The Hague.
Nobody expects the Marshall Islands republic to force the 3 powers to disarm but their persistent campaign highlights the growing scope for political minnows to be heard through global tribunals. The Islands, a US protectorate till 1986, was the site of 67 nuclear tests by 1958, the health impacts of which linger to this day.
Other nuclear powers – including China, France, Russia and the US, and undeclared nuclear states Israel and North Korea have not responded to the suit that the islands filed last year.