Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5

Troy Dombrowski

Professor Jessie Rumsey


PS386 International Law
5 April 2016
I. Oil Platforms (Iran v. U.S.)
II. International Court of Justice 6 November 2003
III.

Oil Platforms (Iran v. U.S.), 2003, ICJ 161.


IV. Facts
a.
The International Court of Justice at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands
b.
Iran submitted a claim to the International Court of Justice on 2 November 1992,
referring to two attacks made by the United States on 19 October 1987 and 18 April
1988, in which three Iranian oil platforms were destroyed. Iran felt the United States
actions breached some provisions within their bilateral Treaty of Amity, Economic
Relations, and Consular Rights, which was signed in 1955 (thus will be referred to as the
1955 treaty moving forward), and they sought reparations for the attacks. Iran based the
courts jurisdiction to hear the claim from Article XXI, paragraph II, of the 1955 treaty,
which allowed the court to interpret the treaty in the event of a conflict between parties.
The United States challenged the courts jurisdiction to hear the case via Article 79,
paragraph I, of Rules of Court of 14 April 1978, and this challenge was rejected by the
court. The United States then issued a counter-claim regarding Irans actions in the
Persian Gulf during 1987-88 citing mining of the waters and other attacks on U.S.
flagged vessels, which the court found to be admissible and used in the proceedings of
the case. There was neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in this case because the court was
asked to review if there was a breach in the 1955 Treaty between Iran and the United
States.
V.
Issues
a. Whether or not the United States violated its obligations in Article X, paragraph I,
of the 1955 Treaty regarding the freedom of commerce in the boundaries between
the two countries.
b. Whether or not the United States actions were necessary to ensure the safety of
its security interests in light of Article XX, paragraph I (d) of the Treaty.
c. Whether or not the United States actions against the Iranian oil platforms qualify
as self-defense in regards to the international laws on the use of force.
VI.

Decisions
a. (1) By fourteen votes to two, the court finds that the attacks made by the

United States on Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 and 18 April


1988 are not accounted for as necessary to ensure safety for its security
interests under Article XX, paragraph I (d), of the 1955 Treaty of Amity,
Economic Relations, and Consular Rights. This decision was in

b.

c.

d.

e.

f.

consideration of international law on the use of force. In addition, the court


found further that it could not uphold the claim by Iran, that the actions
made by the United States were a breach of obligations under Article X,
paragraph I, of the relevant treaty regarding the freedom of commerce.
Thus, the requested reparations by Iran cannot be upheld either.
(2) By fifteen votes to one, the court finds that the counter-claim made the
United States involving a breach of obligations in the 1955 by Iran under
Article X, paragraph I, involving the freedom of commerce between the
two countries cannot be sustained. Thus, the requested reparations cannot
be approved either.
The court decided that because there was an U.S. embargo on Iranian oil
products during the time of the attacks, there was no commerce between the
countries. In addition, the breach of the freedom of commerce and
navigation under Article X, paragraph I, states that there needs to be an
impact of commerce between the territories of each state, and at the time of
the attack, the oil platforms were considered to be inoperative. Therefore,
the attacks could not be considered a breach in the obligations of the treaty,
and the court rejected the claim of Iran.
The court came to the conclusion that the United States counter-claim could
not be accepted based on the requirements to prove that Iran actually
violated the treaty regarding the freedom of commerce and navigation, and
to prove that the mining and missile attacks it cited in its claim can be
attributed to Iran. The vessels that the United States reported were
destroyed by Iranian attacks could not be validated in the eyes of the court
and since the first requirement was not met, the court did not see it
necessary to look into the second requirement.
One Dissenting opinion regarding the first decision was by Judge AlKhasawneh. He felt that the United States did in fact violate its obligations
under Article X, paragraph I, of the 1955 Treaty, regarding the freedom of
commerce. He disagreed with the courts narrow interpretation of the
definition of the freedom of commerce as well as disagreed with the
reasoning involved in considering direct and indirect commerce. He felt
that the court should have upheld both the claim and counter-claim before
the court.
Judge Elaraby issued another dissenting opinion in regards to the courts
dispositif and made three points as to why he disagreed. He felt that the
court had the jurisdiction to rule on the United States use of force, and how
the court missed an opportunity to further define the law on the use of
force. He also felt that the United States did in fact violate the obligations in
the 1955 Treaty involving the freedom of commerce and navigation. Thus,
he felt that Irans claim should have been upheld. Lastly, he felt that the
court was right to look into Article XX before Article X of the 1955 Treaty,

and feels like the court could have used the opportunity to be more
extensive on the development on the law regarding the use of force.
VII.

Principles
a. The court decided to use the provisions with Article XX, paragraph I, of the 1955
treaty, in regards to whether or not the United States actions were justified. While
looking into this provision, the court chose to examine the United States
justification of citing self-defense in regards to their use of force. The court found
that the U.S. exceeded the limits in light of international law on the use of force
and tossed their claim of protection under Article XX, paragraph I, of the 1955
Treaty. In regards to Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, the U.S. failed to provide
enough adequate evidence to blame Iran for the Sea Isle City missile attack and
the mining of USS Samuel B. Roberts. The Court cited the Nicaragua Case in
terms of necessity and proportionality in regards to the accused attacks by Iran
used by the U.S. to justify their actions against the oil platforms, and the court felt
the accused Iranian attacks were not severe enough to justify self-defense as a
means for the U.S. recourse. The evaluation for self-defense was set by the court
in the case The Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons in terms of
necessity and proportionality, and the U.S., as previously noted, failed to meet
both requirements; therefore, could not be protected by Article XX, paragraph I,
of the 1955 Treaty.
VIII. Conclusion
a. This case presented significant impact on U.S. activities in the Middle East, since
they are constantly becoming involved in affairs in the region as well as a
measuring tool on the use of force in the region by other countries which
intervene. However, the case is also criticized because the court missed the
opportunity to lay out more clear ground rules on the aspects of commerce and
navigation and their ties to armed conflict in the Middle East. Both parties of the
case recognized the significant impact the self-defense issues brought up in the
case would have for the international community, and the conclusion of the case
did not take advantage of the opportunity to clear up confusion on the limits on
the use of force when self-defense is claimed. However, the significance of the
conditions required for necessity and proportionality were supplemented in
this case to address armed conflicts between states, especially in the Middle East.
The significance of the claim and counter-claim being rejected is due to the terms
explicitly outlined in each statement made to the court as well as the terms of the
1955 Treaty between the states.
IX.
Sources (MLA Format)
Bekker, Pieter H.F. "The World Court Finds That U.S. Attacks on Iranian Oil Platforms i 19871988 Were Not Justifiable as Self-Defense, but the United States Did Not Violate the
Applicable Treaty with Iran." The World Court Finds That U.S. Attacks on Iranian Oil
Platforms in 1987-1988 Were Not Justifiable as Self-Defense, but the United States Did

Not Violate the Applicable Treaty with Iran. American Society of International Law, 11
Nov. 2003. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.
"Case Concerning Oil Platforms." Section of International and Comparative Law Bulletin 8.2
(1964): 37. ICJ-CIJ. International Court of Justice, 6 Nov. 2003. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.
ERHAN, ZEYNEP. "SELF DEFENCE-OIL PLATFORM CASE." SELF DEFENCE-OIL
PLATFORM CASE (2012): n. pag. Strategic Outlook, Dec. 2012. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.
Foster, Caroline E. "The Oil Platforms Case and The Use of Force in International Law."
Singapore Journal of International & Comparative Law 7 (2003): 577-88. CommonLII.
Singapore Journal of International & Comparative Law, 2003. Web. 5 Apr. 2016.
Gordon, Geoff. "THE OIL PLATFORMS OPINION: AN ELEPHANT IN THE EYE OF A
NEEDLE." Amsterdam Law Forum. VU University Amsterdam, 2009. Web. 5 Apr. 2016.
"IRAN: The 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights." IRAN: The 1955
Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights. Pars Times: Greater Iran &
Beyond, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.
Ochoa-Ruiz, Natalia, and Esther Salamanca-Aguado. "The Contribution of the ICJ Judgment of
6 November 2003 in the Case Concerning Oil Platforms (Islamic Republic of Iran v.
United States of America) to International Law on the Use of Force in Self-defence." The
Contribution of the ICJ Judgment of 6 November 2003 in the (n.d.): n. pag. Esil-sedi.
Web. 5 Apr. 2016. <http://www.esil-sedi.eu/sites/default/files/OchoaRuizSalamanca_0.PDF>.
"Oil Platforms (Iran v. U.S.), 2003 I.C.J. 161 (Nov. 6)." Oil Platforms (Iran v. U.S.), 2003 I.C.J.
161 (Nov. 6). WorldCourts, 6 Nov. 2003. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

"Oil Platforms (Iran v. USA)." The Hague Justice Portal. The Hague Justice Portal, n.d. Web. 4
Apr. 2016.
"U.S. Reaction to ICJ Judgment in Iranian Oil Platforms Case." The American Journal of
International Law. American Society of International Law, July 2004. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.