INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ISSUES ADVISORY OPINION ON LEGALITY OF THREAT OR USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

ICJ/546
8 July 1996

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ISSUES ADVISORY OPINION ON LEGALITY OF THREAT OR USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

8 July 1996


Press Release
ICJ/546


INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ISSUES ADVISORY OPINION ON LEGALITY OF THREAT OR USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

19960708 THE HAGUE, 8 July (ICJ) -- The International Court of Justice today handed down its advisory opinion on the request made by General Assembly resolution 49/75 K, of 15 December 1994, on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons.

According to the opinion, the Court:

-- By 13 votes to 1, decided to comply with the request for an advisory opinion;

-- Replied in the following manner to the question put by the General Assembly:

"A. Unanimously,

There is in neither customary nor conventional international law any specific authorization of the threat or use of nuclear weapons;

B. By 11 votes to 3,

There is in neither customary nor conventional international law any comprehensive and universal prohibition of the threat or use of nuclear weapons as such;

C. Unanimously,

A threat or use of force by means of nuclear weapons that is contrary to Article 2, paragraph 4, of the United Nations Charter and that fails to meet all the requirements of Article 51, is unlawful;

D. Unanimously,

A threat or use of nuclear weapons should also be compatible with the requirements of the international law applicable in armed conflict, particularly those of the principles and rules of international humanitarian law, as well as with specific

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obligations under treaties and other undertakings which expressly deal with nuclear weapons;

E. By 7 votes to 7,

It follows from the above-mentioned requirements that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law;

However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court 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;

F. Unanimously,

There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."

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For information media. Not an official record.