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122-Application for Revision of the ICJ Judgment of April 11th,1996 (Yugoslavia vs Bosnia and Herzegovina)

On April 24th, 2001, Yugoslavia went before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to file an application for revision of a judgment rendered on April 11th, 1996 by the latter in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In that judgment, the Court found that it had jurisdiction to hear the dispute submitted to it on the basis of article IX of said convention and ruled the application of Bosnia and Herzegovina admissible.

The application for revision of the judgment of April 11th,1996 was based on article 61 of the Statute of the Court, which provides for the revision of a decision upon ”discovery” of a”fact” which was ”unknown” to all parties involved ”when the judgment was given”. In the present situation, according to the applicant state, it was now clearly established that Yugoslavia had become a member of the UN on November 1st,2000. Prior to that date, it did not have a recognised legal personality as it did not succeed to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Therefore, it could not be party to either the ICJ Statute or the aforementioned Convention. 

Hence the Court had to decide whether the recent developments presented could be qualified as ”new facts”. In its judgment of February 3rd, 2003. the ICJ recalled that for a party to avail itself the benefit of the article 61 of the its Statute, the alleged facts must have taken place prior to the judgment but been discovered afterwards. In this instance, the Court ruled on July 11th, 1996 whilst Yugoslavia became member of the UN on November 1st,2000, i.e. more than four years after the contested decision. Therefore, it could not have been a new fact according the meaning of article invoked as a basis in the application for revision.

Yugoslavia also asserted that both its membership to the UN and the correspondence sent on December 8th,2000 to the legal department of the organisation demonstrated that the country was not part of the UN at the time of the judgment, fact which was then unknown to everyone involved.  The ICJ dismissed this argument however, asserting that these were potential ”legal consequences […] of facts which were subsequent to the judgment which revision was requested”. These consequences, even if they were established, could not be qualified as new facts under article 61 of the Statute of the Court, which therefore had to reject the request for revision of Yugoslavia.

Judgment of 03-02-2003.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.