Today, Tony DeBrum, the former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, will take the stand at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. He will be making opening statements in the Marshall Islands’ case against the UK: whether the UK is complying with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament, including cessation of the nuclear arms race.
This may seem an unusual step, but this tiny nation in the South Pacific is one of the chief victims of nuclear weapons. From 1948 – 1956 the United States detonated 67 nuclear weapons test explosions over the Marshall Islands. During this period, the equivalent of 1.7 Hiroshima-sized bombs were detonated daily. Several islands were vaporized, others will remain uninhabitable for thousands of years. Many Marshallese died, babies were born with birth defects never seen before, and residents of the islands are still battling with cancers and other radiation related diseases.
The hearings, which continue until March 16th, concern preliminary issues as to whether the case is suitable for adjudication, and also include similar cases against India and Pakistan. All nuclear weapons states were originally served with lawsuits by the Marshall Islands, but only UK, India and Pakistan recognise the ICJ.
You can watch the hearings on the International Court of Justice website or you can go to The Hague in person to support the Marshall Islands in the courtroom during the public hearings from March 9th – 16th. There is no advance registration procedure and the schedule can be found here Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom.
There can be no doubt the Marshall Islands deserve our support for their courageous stand and we need to help make this case more widely known. For more information about the cases visit the Nuclear Zero website.