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064- US Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (USA vs Iran)

On November 29th, 1979, the United States filed before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) an application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Iran. Indeed, members of the American diplomatic and consular staff had been taken hostage during an attack carried out on November 4th, 1979 by a group of Iranian militants. The US contended that this act engaged the responsibility of the Iranian State under international law.

The original application was accompanied by a request for the indication of provisional measures. In its Order of December 15th, 1979, the ICJ recalling that the inviolability of diplomats and embassies was an absolutely fundamental principle in relations between States, the ICJ ordered the immediate restoration of the embassy premises  and the release of the hostages.

Order of 15-12-1979.pdf

The Court delivered its judgment on the merits of the case on May 24th, 1980, even though the situation had not yet been resolved and despite the absence of the Government of Iran, which maintained that the ICJ lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. 

The ICJ asserted that Iran had violated and continued to violate its obligations to the United States under various applicable conventions between the two countries as well as rules of general international law, that these violations engaged its responsibility, that the Government of Iran should ensure the immediate release of the hostages and return the premises of the embassy and that it was under the obligation to make reparation for the damage caused to the United States.

Judgment of 24-05-1980.pdf

The Court did not have to rule on the question of compensation for the damage caused to the Government of the United States because the latter informed the ICJ of its intention to withdraw. The Court therefore issued an order striking off the roll on May 12th, 1981.

Order of 12-05-1981.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.

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