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Nuclear Tests: New Zealand vs France

Thursday, September 21, 2017


3:50 PM

France: Communique (June 8, 1974)


o French President, in a communiqu, stated that as soon as the summer tests ends that
they will be moving to underground testing.
France: Note (June 10, 1974) = "...thus, the atmospheric tests which will be carried out shortly
will, in the normal course of events, be the last of its type."
NZ: PM letter to French President
o Angry with the "normal course of events"; not a reassurance of the end to the nuclear
tests.
France: Reply (July 1, 1974)
o reitereated the statement of the French government that they will be moving to
underground testing.

------ after oral proceedings


France: press conference (july 25) by the president
o Made it clear that this round of atmospheric tests would be the last.
France: interview in a show (Aug. 16) minister of defense.
o French govnt is doing its best to ensure that the 1974 Nuclear tests would be the last
atmospheric tests
France: French minister of foreign affairs addressing the UN (Sept)
o Assured the UN that France is ready to proceed with underground testing as early as
next year.
France: Minister of defense: by 1975, no more atmospheric tests as France is ready to
proceed with the underground testing.

It is well recognized that declarations made by way of unilateral acts, concerning legal or
factual situations, may have the effect of creating legal obligations. Declarations of this kind
may be, and often are, very specific. When it is the intention of the State making the
declaration that it should become bound according to its terms, that intention confers on the
declaration the character of a legal undertaking, the State being
thenceforth legally required to follow a course of conduct consistent with the declaration.
o An undertaking of this kind, if given publicly, and with an intent to be bound, even
though not made within the context of international negotiations, is binding.
o In these circumstances, nothing in the nature of a quid pro quo, nor any subsequent
acceptance of the declaration, nor even any reply or reaction from other States, is
required for the declaration to take effect, since such a requirement would be
inconsistent with the strictly unilateral nature of the juridical act by which the
pronouncement by the State was made.
o Of course, not all unilateral acts imply obligation; but a State may choose to take up a
certain position in relation to a particular matter with the intention of being bound--the
intention is to be ascertained by the interpretation of an act.
No form is required! What is controlling is the intent of the party
o Temple of Preah Vihear case: the sole relevant question is whether the language
employed in any given declaration does reveal a clear intention.
Principle of good faith = core of this rule
o Binding character of an international obligation assumed by a unilateral declaration is
based on this principle.
o Validity of these statements and their legal consequences must be considered within
the general framework of the security of international intercourse, and the confidence
and trust which are so essential in the relations among States.
From the actual substance of the statements and from the circumstances attending their
making, that the legal implications of a unilateral act must be deduced.
Of all the statements made, the ones made by the French president are the most important
ones. In view of his functions, his public communications or statements, oral or written, as
Head of State, are in international relations acts of the French State.
o His statements, together with those statements made by those under him and with his
authority, were made publicly.
o The objects of the statements clear and addressed to the international community as a
whole, these statements constitute an undertaking possessing legal effect.
Since what NZ has been asking for is an assurance that no further atmospheric tests will be
made, then there is no conflict anymore, since France has provided for exactly that.