The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has ruled on Thursday that it has jurisdiction to hear a century-old dispute between Chile and Bolivia in relation to Bolivia’s access to the Pacific Ocean.
Bolivia became landlocked after it lost 400km of coast to Chile during the War of the Pacific in 1879-1884.
In April 2013, Bolivia filed an application to the International Court of Justice instituting proceedings against Chile with regard to a dispute “relating to Chile’s obligation to negotiate in good faith and effectively with Bolivia in order to reach an agreement granting Bolivia a fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean”. Bolivia stressed that it did not ask for an ICJ ruling on its claim to the 400-km stretch of coast, but that it only wanted Chile to agree to negotiations.
Chile argued that the case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the ICJ as a 1904 peace treaty between the two countries settled their border. It therefore asked the Court to rule that the claim brought by Bolivia was not within the jurisdiction of the Court. Continue reading
The International Court of Justice
Today, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rejected the claim of Croatia that Serbia committed genocide in Croatia in 1991, as well as the counter-claim by Serbia that the expulsion of more than 200,000 Serbs from Croatia constituted genocide.
Judge Peter Tomka, president of the ICJ, said that although both sides had carried out violent acts during the war, neither side had provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate the specific intent required for acts of genocide.
Both countries relied on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) for contending that the other country had committed genocide. The fact that the claims were based only on the Genocide Convention, implied that the Court had no power to rule on alleged breaches of other obligations under international law, not amounting to genocide, particularly those protecting human rights in armed conflict. Continue reading
by Dr Filippo Fontanelli
The International Court of Justice
With the decision no. 238 of 22 October 2014, the Italian Constitutional Court (the CC) produced the most spectacular display of dualism this side of Medellin. The CC declared the unconstitutionality of Italy’s compliance with the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s judgment Germany v. Italy (Greece intervening). The CC’s ruling – briefly reported – invites speculation on two fronts: 1) What does it say about the application of international law in domestic courts? 2) Is the judgment reasonable by any relevant standards other than Italian constitutional law?
On the practical matters of the follow-up scenario before Italian ordinary courts, I take the liberty to refer to my discussion here (spoiler: Germany will not pay anyway).
In February 2012, the ICJ found that Italy breached its international obligations vis-à-vis Germany. Italian courts had exercised jurisdiction in tort proceedings against Germany, instituted by Italian plaintiffs for World War II war crimes of the Nazi occupation forces in Italy. These proceedings, resulting in Germany being ordered to compensate the victims, constituted internationally wrongful acts, since they disregarded the international custom whereby sovereign states are immune from civil suit in foreign courts, for acts jure imperii. The ICJ reached the same conclusion with respect to the ensuing enforcement proceedings and the exequatur granted by Italian judges to authorise execution of Greek judgments in similar disputes. Continue reading
by Shehzad Charania*
On 17 December 2013, Timor-Leste instituted proceedings at the International Court of Justice against Australia. The application related to the seizure and detention of “documents, data and other property” by “agents of Australia” from the offices of Timor-Leste’s legal adviser in Canberra, pursuant to a warrant issued by the Australian Attorney General under the Australian Security Intelligence Act. Timor-Leste claimed that the material seized related to a pending arbitration in which the 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea was invalid because Australia had bugged the offices of the Timor-Leste cabinet room for a number of
years, thereby gaining an unfair advantage in treaty negotiations. In their application, Timor-Leste argued that the material should be returned, and copies retrieved and destroyed. They demanded an apology, and a declaration from the ICJ that Australia’s actions were illegal under international law.
The same day, Timor-Leste submitted a request for provisional measures. They sought the delivery of the seized documents to the ICJ; information relating to, and destruction of copies made; and an assurance that Australia would “not intercept or cause or request the interception of communications between Timor-Leste and its legal advisers, whether within or outside Australia or Timor-Leste”. Continue reading