The International Court of Justice (‘ICJ’) in the Hague has granted Iran’s plea for ‘provisional measures’ in its lawsuit against the US over the re-imposition of sanctions following the US’s exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (‘JCPOA’) on 8 May (3 October). In its application, Iran argued that through its decision ‘to reimpose in full effect and enforce’ sanctions against Iran, Iranian companies and its people, the US ‘has violated and continues to violate multiple provisions of the 1955 Treaty’. This refers to the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, an infrequently used legal instrument setting out the legal framework for bi-lateral relations between the two countries, entered into when Iran was under the rule of the Shah. Iran argued that US sanctions should be suspended until the case is heard in full, which could take years.
The ICJ ordered that:
‘(1) unanimously, that the United States of America, in accordance with its obligations under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights, must remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from the measures announced on 8 May 2018 to the free exportation to the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran of (i) medicines and medical devices; (ii) foodstuffs and agricultural commodities; and (iii) spare parts, equipment and associated services (including warranty, maintenance, repair services and inspections) necessary for the safety of civil aviation;
(2) unanimously, that the United States of America must ensure that licences and necessary authorizations are granted and that payments and other transfers of funds are not subject to any restriction in so far as they relate to the goods and services referred to in point (1);
(3) unanimously, that both parties must refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded by terminating the Treaty of Amity. He said: ‘Iran is attempting to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take lawful actions necessary to protect our national security. And Iran is abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes and their case, as you can see from the decision, lacked merit.’
Although the ICJ is the supreme United Nations court and its decisions are binding, it lacks the means to enforce its judgments and its rulings have been ignored by countries in the past, including the US and Iran.
The Order can be found here:
The press release can be found here: