Term Paper, 2005
20 Pages, Grade: 1,3
List of Abbreviations
1.1. International Court of Justice
1.2. Background of the present case
1.3. The case of Iraq
2. Arguments of both parties
2.1. The Accusation: Iraq
2.2. The Defense: United States of America
2.3. Iraq’s response
2.4. America’s final defence
3. The (proposal of a) judgment of the ICJ
Literature and Sources
Press and Media
illustration not visible in this excerpt
“The International Court of Justice established by the Charter of the United Nations [is] the principal judicial organ of the Unirted Nations” is laid down in article 1 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ consists of 15 international judges of high moral character who are elected by the General Assembly (GA) and the Security Council of the United Nations (UNSC). It is not permitted to have two judges of the same nationality in the Court. Judges are elected for nine years, re-election for another period is possible. Every three years elections will be held in which five judges are chosen. If the bench of judges does not include one with the nationality of a state of the dispute, this state can appoint a person to sit ad hoc for this case.
The seat of the ICJ is at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, nevertheless it is possible to exercise its functions elsewhere. The ICJ has two main functions: it has to settle legal disputes submitted to the Court in accordance with international law and secondly it has to give advisory opinions on legal questions (ICJ 2005a).
Only states can be parties in front of the ICJ. It is open to all states that have ratified the Statute, conditions for other states can be made by the UNSC. Article 36 of the Statute of the ICJ makes clear that “the jurisdiction of the Court comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations”.
All Members of the UN are as well parties to the ICJ, as laid down in Article 93 of the Charter of the United Nations (UN). A dispute could be brought to the attention of the ICJ by any member of the UN (Charter of the UN: Article 35.1) or a party to the dispute (Charter of the UN: Article 35.2). The UNSC is like the ICJ a principal body of the UN. These two bodies often have to act in correlation, a complete separation of powers does not exist. Their functions are complementary (cp. Skubiszewski 1996).
States have the opportunity to accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ generally in respect of all occurring disputes or only particular ones. A general acceptance of the ICJ needs a declaration from a state which is party to the present Statute (Statute of the ICJ: Article 36.2).
In respect to Article 36.2 of the Statute of the ICJ the United States of America (USA) have not signed the declaration to accept all cases in front of the ICJ. For this reason it is difficult to bring them in front of the ICJ if the do not want.
Iraq is like the USA an Original Member of the UN. Both states have not signed the declaration recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory (ICJ 2005b). Anyhow it would be unlikely, that Iraq would bring the case in front of the ICJ, knowing of the breaches of UN law in the past. For this paper we assume that both parties agreed to bring the case to the ICJ.
The present composition of the Court is as follows: President Shi Jiuyong (China); Vice-President Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar); Judges Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone); Vladlen S. Vereshchetin (Russian Federation); Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom); Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela); Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands); Francisco Rezek (Brazil); Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan); Thomas Buergenthal (United States of America); Nabil Elaraby (Egypt); Hisashi Owada (Japan); Bruno Simma (Germany); Peter Tomka (Slovakia) and Ronny Abraham (France) (ICJ 2005a). As we can see, there is currently no judge from Iraq sitting in the Court, but a judge from the USA and as well one of its strongest allies United Kingdom (UK). For this reasons all parties agreed to have an ad hoc judge from Iraq.
In July 1979 Saddam Hussein became President and Chairman of the Revolutionery Command Council, which means that de facto he was at this time already ruler of Iraq before he formally came to power. Territorial disputes led to the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988. During this time ongoing rebellions from Kurdish elements in the north of the country lasted. The government of Iraq used weapons against civilians, for example in March 1988 where in a gas attack on the city of Halabja several thousand people were killed (Wikipedia 2005a).
In August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait because of a territorial dispute. The Iraqi invasion was immediately condemned by the Arab League and the UNSC. The latter imposed a few days later an economic embargo on Iraq. Resolution 678 was adopted in November 1990. It called for the fully completion of resolution 660 and the complete withdrawal of the Iraqi forces before 15th January 1991. Otherwise “all necessary means” would take place, which is the diplomatic code for military actions.
However, Saddam Hussein did not comply with this demand, which led to the begin of the first Gulf War (Operation “Desert Storm”) on 17th January 1991 with allied troops of 28 countries led by the US. After six weeks ceasefire was announced on 28th February 1991 by the US. Iraq agreed in April 1991 on a permanent ceasefire and complete withdrawal of Kuwait. The UNSC agreed on resolution 687 after the war on 3rd April 1991. Iraq was demanded to destroy all Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers. The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) was established by this resolution. UNSCOM should inspect Iraq’s nuclear capabilities and make sure that Iraq fulfils all requirements of the resolution.
The mission UNSCOM inspected Iraq from 1991 to 1998. In this time more weapons were destroyed than in the whole 2nd Gulf War. UNSCOM ended in 1998 in a dispute between Saddam Hussein and the UN, when the US and Great Britain (GB) flew air strikes against military facilities and alleged WMD sites up to 2002 as a penalty.
The UNSC resolution 1441 from November 2002 recalled again to give the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), the successor mission to UNSCOM, “immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access”. UNMOVIC had more power and better equipment than UNSCOM. The Swedish diplomat Hans Blix was the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC. Another requirement in the resolution was, to provide within 30 days “a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems”. Iraq wrote such a report, but the US and GB were not fully satisfied. They gave the weapon inspectors more time till February 2003. The UN weapon inspectors could not find WMD in Iraq, therefore they requested for more time, which was opposed by the US and GB.
The USA and GB pushed for another resolution in the UNSC to legitimize military actions against Saddam Hussein. At least three of the permanent members of the UNSC (Russia, People’s Republic of China, France) would have vetoed this new resolution. The US and GB together with the “Coalition of the Willing” invaded Iraq on 20th March 2003. After only 21 days Iraq was conquered. On 1st May 2003 President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the Iraq war on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
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