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The Republic of the Marshall Islands v.

The Republic of India: Negotiations on


Nuclear Weapons
By Dr. Parasaran Rangaraan!Dated "#!$ept!"%&'
(arlier this year) the Marshall Islands *led a case at the International +ourt
of ,ustice -I+,. against India) /nited 0ingdo12&3) and Pa4istan2"3 for failure
to engage in their obligation as a state under custo1ary international la5
to5ards negotiations 5hich 5ould end their nuclear progra11es263.
The entire case is based on one state1ent in the &778 9dvisory :pinion on
the ;egality :f The Threat :r /se :f Nuclear Weapons2'3) also *led at the
I+,. In the case) the udges unani1ously decided:
There e<ists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion
negotiations leading to nuclear disar1a1ent in all its aspects under strict
and e=ective international control>
This part of the opinion is custo1ary international la5 and in 1ost cases?
creates legal obligations. This is because 9rticle 6@ -&. -b. of the $tatute of
the International +ourt of ,ustice allo5s custo1ary la5 to be introduced as
evidence in a case2#3. Realising this) 4eep in 1ind that India has engaged in
nuclear disar1a1ent negotiations for decades and a case to force India to
negotiate is unnecessary. It 1ay also a1ount to duress or interfering in the
internal 1atters of a nation.
9ccording to the /nited Nations Aigh Representative Bor Disar1a1ent
9=airs $ergio Duarte283:
Mahat1a Candhi hi1self conde1ned the ato1ic bo1bings in ,apan)
declaring that DThe only 5eapon that can save the 5orld is non!violence.E
:n 9pril ") &7#') Pri1e Minister Nehru responded to tests of hydrogen
bo1bs by calling upon the /nited $tates and the $oviet /nion to conclude a
Dstandstill agree1entE on further tests pending progress in disar1a1ent.
India presented this proposal to $ecretary!Ceneral Dag Aa11ars4Fld a fe5
days later.E
While one 1ay argue that the disar1a1ent of nuclear 5eapons is also
Dgeneral practiceE in the conte<t of the Dprinciples of hu1anityE) this is a
case of trying to force a 1e1ber!$tate of the /nited Nations to abide by a
treaty) speci*cally the DNon!Proliferation TreatyE -NPT.. This is illegal and
any signing 5ould a1ount to duress 5hich 5ould 1a4e the treaty null. Birst)
5e cite 9rticle 6' of the &787 DGienna +onvention :n The ;a5 :f
TreatiesE2H3:
9 treaty does not create either obligations or rights for a third $tate
5ithout its consent.E
This is fairly straight for5ard as the I+, cannot force India to abide by the
NPT 5ithout its consent. While the argu1ent 1ay be that the I+, should
force India into entering negotiations in Dgood faithE to5ards disar1a1ent)
no progress can be 1ade in the actual disar1a1ent nor can the court force
India to negotiate as that is a breach of sovereignty.
In /nited Nations Ceneral 9sse1bly Resolution "8"# -IIG. or the
DDeclaration on Principles of International ;a5 concerning Briendly Relations
and +o!operation a1ong $tates in accordance 5ith the +harter of the
/nited NationsE2@3) it states:
No $tate or group of $tates has the right to intervene) directly or indirectly)
for any reason 5hatever) in the internal or e<ternal a=airs of any other
$tate.E
+learly) reJuesting the courts to force India to negotiate 5ithout any
1andate fro1 the international co11unity is an intervention into the
e<ternal a=airs of the nation in violation of 9rticle " of the /nited Nations
+harter273. 9 si1ilar case has been *led against +hile by Bolvia -Bolvia v.
+hile.2&%3 at the I+, atte1pting to force negotiations but has been *led
under the pre1ise of an e<isting treaty? The Bogota Treaty.
The situation 1ay be di=erent if the /nited Nations or its bodies had a
1andate drafted for India for this speci*c purpose but none e<ists till this
day. There are only resolutions encouraging 1e1ber!$tates to oin the NPT
and disar1 nuclear 5eapons. (ven 5hen 0osovo declared independence
fro1 $erbia 5ith the /nited Nations 1andate but $erbia refused to
negotiate until the I+, rendered its opinion on the 1atter2&&3.
In addition) the court 5ill not have the proper urisdiction to hand do5n a
verdict on this 1atter as it relates to national defence. :bserving ,udge
Ignacio PintoKs state1ent fro1 the nuclear case at the I+,? the +ourt Dhas
no right to hand do5n a decision against a $tate 5hich by a for1al
declaration e<cludes its urisdiction over disputes concerning activities
connected 5ith national defenceE. The I+, stated it lac4ed urisdiction to
deliver a verdict in the &777 Pa4istan v. India2&"3 case as 5ell for si1ilar
reasons.
More so) the court found that the non!use of nuclear 5eapons could prove
their DuseE as a deterence in international relations. India) to its 5est and
north is surrounded by nuclear states and is a valid for1 of deterrence.
9rticle I -&. of the NPT states the party 1ay 5ithdra5 fro1 the treaty itself
if it is not in the interests of the nation:
9rticle I
1. (ach Party shall in e<ercising its national sovereignty have the right to
5ithdra5 fro1 the Treaty if it decides that e<traordinary events)
related to the subect 1atter of this Treaty) have eopardiLed the
supre1e interests of its country.E
It is also 5orthy to 1ention India 5as the *rst country to call for a ban on
nuclear testing in &7#'M India even participated in the negotiations for the
+o1prehensive Nuclear Ban Test Treaty.2&63 This is not to 1ention the
decades long negotiations India has pro1oted in nuclear disar1a1ent
according to the Per1anent Mission of India to the /nited Nations2&'3:
In &7H@) India proposed negotiations for an international convention that
5ould prohibit the use or threat of use of nuclear 5eapons.
This 5as follo5ed by another initiative in &7@" calling for a >nuclear freeLe>
! i.e. prohibition on the production of *ssile 1aterial for 5eapons) on
production of nuclear 5eapons) and related delivery syste1s
In ,une &7@@) Pri1e Minister Raiv Candhi presented an D9ction Plan for
/shering in a Nuclear ! 5eapon free and Non ! Giolent World :rderE to the
Third $pecial $ession on Disar1a1ent of the Ceneral 9sse1bly in ,une
&7@@.
The heart of the 9ction Plan 5as the eli1ination of all nuclear 5eapons) in
three stages by "%&% and it e1phasiLed nuclear disar1a1ent that is
global) universal and non ! discri1inatory in nature.E
In :ctober "%%8) India presented to the Birst +o11ittee of the /N Ceneral
9sse1bly a Wor4ing Paper on Nuclear Disar1a1ent.E
9s 5e can see) India has a long history of involve1ent in the disar1a1ent
of nuclear 5eapons and as late as "%%8) voted in favour of nuclear
disar1a1ent at the /nited Nations Ceneral 9sse1bly and participating in
the +o11ittee for Nuclear Disar1a1ent.
9s late as "%&6) the for1er (<ternal 9=airs Minister of India $hri. $al1an
0hurshid stated the nation is ready to enter negotiations to eli1inate
nuclear 5eapons? >We refuse to participate in an ar1s race) including a
nuclear ar1s race. We are prepared to negotiate a global No!Birst!/se
treaty and our proposal for a convention banning the use of nuclear
5eapons re1ains on the table.>2&#3
$o) for the I+, to dictate to India that it 1ust participate in negotiations) it
5ould have to 4eep IndiaKs national interests in 1ind and surely it 5ill not
be the authority to legislate IndiaKs interests. Burther1ore) India has been
5illing and is ready to negotiate.
(very forced negotiation has had a 1andate by the concerned body) either
regional or international. In this case) there is si1ply no 1andate by the
international co11unity calling upon India to enter negotiations for nuclear
disar1a1ent and the I+, as the opinion uris of the nuclear case at the I+,
has been realised through IndiaKs 5illingness to negotiate and previous
negotiations.
The right of India to 1aintain nuclear 5eapons also has to do 5ith its
national defence strategy 5ith regards to the neighborhood of the 5orld it
is in) surrounded by nuclear po5ers. Perhaps 1ost i1portantly) the I+, 1ay
not have the proper urisdiction as 5ell according to the udiciary 5hich
presided over the case of evidence itself.
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