Public Interests in the International Court of Justice — A Comparison between Nuclear Arms Race (2016) and South West Africa (1966)
American Journal of International Law (AJIL)—Unbound (2017)
7 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2017
In the present essay I compare the 2016 judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Nuclear Arms Race (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) with the Court’s 1966 judgment in South West Africa (Ethiopia v. South Africa; Liberia v. South Africa). The Court’s judgment in 1966 was the first, and the one in 2016 the latest, in a series of cases that may be read as instances of public interest litigation — judicial action in support of causes that have not found effective recognition in the political process. While a series of similarities between the two judgments are obvious, I will focus on the classic question at the core of public interest litigation: To what extent can applicants litigate in the public interest? What does that ultimately say about the relationship between judicial and political processes, about social and legal attitudes to politics?
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