The ICJ’s docket grows in June 2016: an overview of Iran v US, Equatorial Guinea v France and Chile v Bolivia

This month, three contentious cases have been instituted by States in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

This breaks a dry spell for the ICJ, where no proceedings were commenced in 2015.

The three cases are as follows:

  1. On 6 June 2016, Chile instituted proceedings against Bolivia in relation to the status and use of the waters in the Silala River system. The principal relief sought by Chile is a declaration that the Silala River system is an international watercourse and that Chile is entitled to equitable and reasonable use of the system in accordance with customary international law.

The ICJ’s press release can be found here.

  1. On 14 June 2016, Equatorial Guinea filed proceedings against France regarding immunity from criminal jurisdiction of its Second Vice-President in charge of Defence and State Security and the legal status of the building which houses its Embassy in France. The question of immunity arises from criminal proceedings in French courts against the Second Vice-President, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, in relation to his alleged misappropriation of public funds in Equatorial Guinea and his investment of those funds in France.

The relief sought by France includes declarations that France has breached its obligation to respect the principles of sovereign equality of States and of   non-interference in the internal affairs of another State. Equatorial Guinea also seeks reparations with respect to France’s alleged responsibility for these violations.

The ICJ’s press release can be found here.

  1. On 14 June 2016, Iran instituted proceedings against the United States regarding the consequences flowing from the US’s designation of Iran as a State that sponsors terrorism. This designation, Iran says, has the effect of subjecting its assets to enforcement proceedings in the US.  Iran asserts that those assets are immune from enforcement proceedings as a matter of international law and as required by the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights between Iran and the US (Treaty of Amity).

Iran seeks declarations that the US has breached certain of its obligations under the Treaty of Amity and that Iran and Iranian State-owned companies are entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts and in respect of enforcement proceedings in the US. Iran also seeks reparations.

The ICJ’s press release can be found here.

The three new proceedings will contribute to the ICJ’s rich tapestry of work over the coming years. International lawyers can look forward to the promise of new jurisprudence, particularly in the areas of sovereign and diplomatic immunity.