The Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in the 1996
Nuclear Weapons Case assessed the legitimacy of the threat or use of nuclear
weapons in an armed conflict. This Article examines the Opinion's contribution to
a contemporary understanding of the law of armed conflict. It argues that the
Court has provided an added weighting for humanitarian standards when
assessing the legitimacy of military actions. This "weighting" significantly
modifies the legitimate application of military force, particularly under the
principle of proportionality. While the Advisory Opinion ostensibly gave formal
primacy to the law of armed conflict, the reasoning adopted by the Court will
enable the opposite to occur; namely, it will promote human rights in the
interpretation of the law of armed conflict. Additionally, the Court's formal
recognition of human rights standards in armed conflict has a significant impact
on rights enjoyed by a Government's own military members.
"Human Rights and Armed Conflict-The Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Nuclear Weapons Case,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal: Vol. 4
, Article 1.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol4/iss1/1