Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7

By Günther Handl; Jutta Brunnée et al. | Go to book overview

XI. REPORTS FROM INTERNATIONAL COURTS AND TRIBUNALS

1. INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE (ICJ)

(1) Case Concerning Gabcikovo/Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia)

There were no further developments in this case. By Press Release of 6 December 1996 the registry of the ICJ announced that oral arguments in the case would open on 3 March 1997.


(2) Fisheries Jurisdiction Case (Spain v. Canada)

Spain and Canada deposited their Memorial and Counter-Memorial respectively on 29 September 1995 and 29 February 1996. Spain's subsequent request to file a reply was opposed by Canada. By Order of 8 May 1996 the Court decided by 15 votes to 2 ( Judge Vereschetin and Judge ad hoc Torres Bernardez voting against) not to authorize the filing of a Reply. The subsequent procedure was reserved for further decision.


(3) Advisory Opinion on Legality of the Use by a State of Nuclear Weapons in Armed Conflict (Request by the World Heath Organization)

On 8 July the Court declined to answer the question posed by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the legality or illegality of the use of nuclear weapons, ruling instead, by an 11 to 3 majority, that the question raised by the request does not arise within the scope of the activities of that Organization as defined by its Constitution (para. 26). The Court found that while the WHO had competence over the effects on health of the use of nuclear weapons it did not have competence to deal with the legality of such use in view of health and environmental effects. "[T]he legality or illegality of the use of nuclear weapons in no way determines the specific measures, regarding health or otherwise . . . which would be necessary in order to seek to prevent or cure some of their effects" (paras. 21 and 22).

Moreover, competence in relation to the legality of the use of nuclear weapons "could not be deemed a necessary implication of the Constitution of the Organization in the light of the purposes assigned to it by its member states" (para. 25). The majority found this conclusion confirmed by the practise of the WHO, and noted that the General Assembly had welcomed the WHO request reflected as a gesture of political support for the organization rather than a statement regarding its competence. The Court ruled that the WHO request posed a legal question, and that its political aspects were irrelevant to the question of jurisdiction. Also, the Court rejected the related

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