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“World Community Interest” Approach to Interim Measures on “Robot Weapons”: Revisiting the Nuclear Test Cases

Ulgen, Ozlem



Forty-four years after the ICJ provisional measures orders in the Nuclear Test Cases requesting France stop atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific, we are facing another deadly threat from the use and development of "robot weapons". Back in the 1970s nuclear weapons were seen as the new frontier in state defensive capability, just as "robot weapons" are today. The ICJ set a precedent for using provisional measures to prevent harm caused by new weapons technology. The orders under art 41 ICJ Statute requested France to avoid nuclear tests causing the deposit of radioactive fall-out on Australian and New Zealand territories. The Nuclear Test Cases are instructive on how the Court may deal with new weapons technology, providing clarification on an urgent basis while a case is pending. Although provisional measures were ordered only in relation to atmospheric tests, the ICJ remains the only international judicial body to have ordered cessation of nuclear tests pending a case. In contrast, individual complaints before the HRC and the ECtHR were refused provisional measures to prevent nuclear tests.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 3, 2017
Online Publication Date Feb 8, 2018
Publication Date Feb 1, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 8, 2022
Journal New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
Print ISSN 1176-6417
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2016
Pages 3-34
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