Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 April 2021
One of the fundamental problems with the TPNW is that the five officially recognized nuclear-weapons states – Russia, the United States, China, France and the United Kingdom, collectively the NWS – and four other states who possess nuclear weapons – India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – have boycotted the Treaty negotiations and refused to sign or ratify it. Despite moves toward neo-universalism, this leaves an important gap in the TPNW legal framework, because it does not directly bind the NWS and it seems unlikely that these NWS will join the Treaty or be bound under opinio juris. One way to remedy this problem and fill the legal gap is to appeal to an existing set of legal obligations found in international jurisprudence to which NWS are already bound. Specifically, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has highlighted that states owe obligations erga omnes – toward all – that derive from other international laws, legal principles and conventions.