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Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons

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    Bloomberg Law

    Citation. I.C.J., 1996 I.C.J. 226

    Brief Fact Summary. The use of nuclear weapons in any form would be unlawful by reference to existing norms relating to the safeguarding and protection of the environment. This position is based on the arguments of certain states.


    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The use of nuclear weapons is not specifically prohibited by international law relating to the protection and safeguarding of the environment.


    Issue. Is the use of nuclear weapons by states specifically prohibited by treaties relating to the protection of the environment?


    Held. No. the use of nuclear weapons by states is not specifically prohibited by treaties relating to the protection of the environment. However, what is necessary and proportionate in the pursuit of militaries goals must be taken into consideration by the state by assessing its impact on the environment. One of the elements which goes into assessing whether an action is in conformity with the principles of necessity and proportionality is respect for the environment.


    Discussion. The U.N. Compensation Commission (U.N.C.C.) hearing claims against Iraq growing out of the 1990-1991 invasion of Kuwait has considered the wartime conduct detrimental to the environment.



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