2017 | 15 | 7-28
Article title

Pojęcie sporu prawnego w prawie międzynarodowym : uwagi na tle sprawy Wysp Marshalla przeciwko niektórym potęgom jądrowym

Title variants
Legal disputes in international law : some remarks on cases brought by the Marshall Islands against certain nuclear weapons states
Languages of publication
This articles considers the concept of legal disputes in international law. On 5 October 2016, the International Court of Justice delivered judgments in three cases brought by the Marshall Islands against certain nuclear weapons States (against India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom). In all three of them, the Court decided that it did not have jurisdiction to entertain the case as the application was inadmissible due to the absence of legal dispute between the States. To put it short, for the first time in the history of the ICJ there has been no legal dispute about nuclear weapons between the Marshall Islands and the respective Respondents. With the large support of non-governmental organizations, the Marshall Islands instituted proceedings against the nuclear powers (the applications were admitted only against the above three States) for the alleged non-compliance with the treaty and customary obligation to pursue in good fait, and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arm race. The Court made significant pronouncements on legal dispute which require careful examination. In particular, the narrow majority in this case developed an additional subjective criterion of the "awareness" of the Respondents regarding the claims of the Applicant, underlining a surprising and unwanted move towards increasing formalism and subjectivism of the International Court. Paragraph 41 of the judgment (UK) states: "a dispute exists when it is demonstrated, on the basis of the evidence, that the respondent was aware, or could not have been unaware, that its views were 'positively opposed' by the applicant". This article discusses legal and political disputes as well as the concept of justiciability of disputes. It further considers the reasoning of the Court with particular regard to the awareness criterion introduced by the Court. It is submitted that the new awareness criterion is not only at variance with the established jurisprudence of the Court, but also undermines the obligation of the Court to rely on objective conditions and facts and compromises judicial economy and sound administration of justice. One may wonder whether the ICJ introduced deliberately the awareness criterion in order to remove from the list a case which was highly political and might have discouraged the great powers from the optional clause system and the international adjudication as a whole.
  • Wydział Prawa i Administracji Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu
Document Type
Publication order reference
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