Voting Patterns and the ICJ Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion

27 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017

Date Written: June 28, 2017


This article aims to understand voting patterns, by reference to explanations of such votes, of member states of the United Nations (UN) pre- and post- the Advisory Opinion on Nuclear Weapons (Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons) of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It also seeks to explore whether and how such votes, and their accompanying explanations, make reference to that advisory opinion. The present article examines the voting patterns of all states across the globe from the point the Advisory Opinion on Nuclear Weapons was requested by the General Assembly from the ICJ, on 15 December 1994 up to this date. Ever since the delivery by the ICJ of the Advisory Opinion on 8 July 1996, the UN General Assembly has been handing down a resolution urging states to comply with their obligations under international law regarding nuclear disarmament. The present article will analyse the votes of each state since 1996, identifying patterns, particularly vis-à-vis nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. Such patterns were somewhat and partially relied upon as evidence against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan by the Marshall Islands in the cases regarding Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament, handed down by the ICJ on 5 October 2016. This is the first time these particular voting patterns are explored in the literature.

Keywords: Votes, Nuclear Weapons, ICJ, Advisory Opinion, UN, General Assembly

Suggested Citation

Solomou, Alexia and Amorós Lark, Melissa, Voting Patterns and the ICJ Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion (June 28, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Alexia Solomou (Contact Author)

International Court of Justice ( email )

Carnegieplein 2
The Hague, 2517 KJ

Melissa Amorós Lark


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