Pakistan won’t be dragged in court by Marshall Islands

  • FO seeks dismissal of anti-nuclear suit, says Pakistan won’t participate in oral hearings at the International Court of Justice
  • Says ICJ has no jurisdiction to hear Marshall Islands’ suit and Marshall Islands has no standing to bring it against Pakistan


Pakistan has submitted its counter-memorial in response to a suit filed by Republic of Marshall Islands against all 9 Nuclear Weapons States, declaring that it would not participate in the ongoing oral hearings of the International Court of Justice.

According to a Foreign Office statement issued on Thursday, the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), with which Pakistan maintains no diplomatic relations, has filed suits at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against all 9 Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) of the world.

However, in conformity with the Statute of the Court, only Pakistan, India and the United Kingdom have been asked to respond to the RMI’s suits since these countries recognised the jurisdiction of the court for certain specific issues at the time of their ratification of the Court’s Statute.


“Pakistan has submitted in its Counter-Memorial that the Court should adjudge and declare that the RMI’s claims against Pakistan are neither within the jurisdiction of the Court nor are they admissible. Additionally, mindful of the Court’s principle of procedural economy, Pakistan has decided not to participate in the ongoing oral hearings as it feels that it does not need to add anything to what it has already submitted in detail in its Counter-Memorial,” the Foreign Office stated.

It said that the case brought up by RMI did not fall within the scope of those specific issues over which Pakistan recognised the ICJ’s jurisdiction.

The government of Pakistan has submitted a comprehensive written response to the court in the form of a counter-memorial, seeking dismissal of the RMI’s suit for lack of the Court’s jurisdiction to entertain the RMI’s claims and the inadmissibility of the RMI’s application.

Drafted pursuant to the rules and jurisprudence of the court and strictly limited to preliminary issues of the court’s jurisdiction and the admissibility of the RMI’s application, Pakistan’s counter-memorial emphasises that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was a matter of its national defense and security which falls exclusively within its domestic jurisdiction and is therefore not to be called into question by any court including the ICJ.


The Foreign Office said it has, moreover, been conveyed to the court that the RMI lacked the requisite standing to institute the current proceedings since there was no dispute, let alone a legal dispute, that exists between the RMI and Pakistan.

“This is manifested by the fact that the RMI has never suffered any damage caused by Pakistan either directly or indirectly, and by the lack of any formal or informal communication initiated by the RMI with Pakistan until it filed its application in the ICJ Registry on April 24, 2014,” it said.

This suit has, therefore, been brought without any sense of reason or responsibility; otherwise, the RMI would have, as a minimum, initiated some form of direct communication with Pakistan on the issues that are allegedly in dispute.


The Foreign Office said it was a fundamental principle of international law that the RMI and Pakistan must have consented to the court’s jurisdiction for it to exercise jurisdiction over the RMI’s claims.

The scope of the court’s jurisdiction in the case was to be ascertained with reference to both the RMI’s and Pakistan’s respective declarations, accepting the court’s compulsory jurisdiction including the reservations or exceptions contained therein, the FO said.

In this regard, first, the reservation in the RMI’s Declaration precluding proceedings where any party has accepted the court’s compulsory jurisdiction only in relation to or for the purpose of the dispute referred to the court expressly excludes the RMI’s claims from the scope of the court’s jurisdiction.

Second, the domestic jurisdiction reservation encompassed in Pakistan’s Declaration expressly excludes the RMI’s claims from the scope of Pakistan’s acceptance of the court’s compulsory jurisdiction as they involve issues of national security in Pakistan’s domestic jurisdiction, for which the ICJ is not the competent forum.


Third, the multilateral treaty reservation contained in Pakistan’s Declaration expressly excludes the RMI’s claims from the court’s jurisdiction because not all states are parties to the multilateral treaty, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), that lies at the heart of the RMI’s claims but of which Pakistan is not a party.