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018- Nottebohm (Liechtenstein vs Guatemala)

On December 17th 1951, Liechtenstein filed an application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) instituting proceedings against Guatemala. In that case, Liechtenstein requested the Government of Guatemala reparation for certain measures taken against Mr. Friedrich Nottebohm, a Liechtenstein national, allegedly contrary to international law. Guatemala raised some preliminary objections relating to the Court’s lack of jurisdiction. Those were rejected by the ICJ in a judgment dated November 18th, 1953.

Judgment of 18-11-1953.pdf

The Court ruled on the merits of the case in its judgment of April 6th, 1955. The point of law revolved around Liechtenstein’s ability to bring an action against Guatemala and more specifically the question of Mr Nottebohm’s nationality. The latter, at the time a German national, had settled in Guatemala in 1905 and continued to reside there. In October 1939, that is, after the outbreak of the Second World War, during a trip to Europe, had obtained Liechtenstein citizenship. In 1940, he returned to Guatemala and resumed the management of his business there until 1943, when he was removed as a measure of war. At the international stage,  It is the bond of nationality between a State and an individual which alone conferred upon the State the right to put forward an international claim on his behalf. Mr. Nottebohm’s nationality, however, was not based on any genuine prior link with Liechtenstein and the sole object of his naturalization was to enable him to acquire the status of a neutral national in time of war. For these reasons, Liechtenstein was not entitled to take up his case and put forward an international claim on his behalf against Guatemala.

Judgment of 06-04-1955.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.