The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
The ICJ will simulate a case based on the following outline. Whilst it is partially based on real circumstances, the case itself is purely fictional. The simulation will be based on a compromise encompassing all relevant facts which will be made available prior to the conference.
The United States and Iran remain parties to the bilateral Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (“The Treaty”). The Treaty entered into force 16 June 1957. It stipulates that the signatories must maintain friendly diplomatic and economic relations.
Iran has recently brought proceedings before the ICJ to claim that the US has breached its obligations under the Treaty. It is claimed that the US has seized and frozen assets belonging to the Iranian Central Bank, thereby significantly restricting trade between the two countries and preventing the Bank from exercising its contractual duties within the US. Iran claims that the bank’s assets are entitled to immunity from such seizure under the Treaty.
In response, the US has argued that Iran has long fostered terrorism, and this seizure of assets is merely a genuine attempt to curb the growth of extremist militant groups. Additionally, the US claims that Iran has breached its duty under customary international law by failing to prevent the growth of terrorism within its State, and as such, a violation of treaty obligations is justified.
To complicate matters further, the US Secretary of Commerce has recently been charged with manslaughter in Iran. It is believed that he was involved in a relationship with the Iranian President’s daughter, and upon discovering that she had entered into a relationship with an Iranian pop star, hired hitmen to assassinate the pop star. The US claims that the Secretary of Commerce enjoys immunity ratione personae, and therefore Iran must release him. Iran posits that the Secretary enjoys no such immunity, and even if he did, has called for the US to waive the immunity in the context of souring relations between the two countries. Note that both the US and Iran are bound by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.
Iran has impliedly hinted that if the US does not either extradite the Secretary for punishment on US ground or waive immunity in order for a conviction to proceed on Iranian soil, then Iran may not wait for an ICJ judgment in relation to the freezing of Iranian assets. It may take matters into its own hands. The US, and indeed the international community, are extremely concerned by the potential scenario raised by this suggestion.
Defendant Iran Defendant Iran Defendant United States of America
- Defendant United States of America
Judge Ronny Abraham (France – President) Judge Joan E. Donoghue (United States of America) Judge Christopher Greenwood (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
- Judge Giorgio Gaja (Italy)
- Judge James Richard Crawford (Australia)
Judge Kirill Gevorgian (Russian Federation)
- Judge Peter Tomka (Slovakia)
- Judge Mohsen Aghahosseini (Islamic Republic of Iran)
Judge Xue Hanquin (China)
- Judge Hisashi Owada (Japan)
Judge Julia Sebutinde (Uganda) Judge Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco)
- Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia)
Judge Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil)
- Judge Patrick Lipton (Jamaica)
The International Court of Justice will be chaired by Carmen Hernández González and Amelia Nichols. See the whole secretariat here.
Study Guides for BerlInMUN 2017 are available online at our Resource Centre.