131-Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

By Resolution ES-10/14 adopted on December 8th, 2003, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to consult the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the potential legal consequences that could be caused by the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In its advisory opinion issued on July 9th, 2004, the ICJ first sought to ensure that it had jurisdiction to hear this matter. It asserted that the General Assembly had the legal authority to seise the Court and that the question asked fell within the competence of the principal organ of the United Nations. It then considered and dismissed any objection relating to the admissibility of the request and concluded that it could validly give a legal opinion on the issues raised by the construction of a wall in the Palestinian territory.

In order to answer to this question, the ICJ first had to determine what were the international principles and instruments that might be applicable in the present case. After examination, the Court cited:

  • The customary principles prohibiting the threat or use of force and the illegality of any territorial acquisition by such means;
  • the principle of self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the Charter and reaffirmed by resolution 2625 (XXV);
  • The Hague Regulation of 1907;
  • The fourth Geneva Convention of 1979;
  • The International Covenant on Civil Rights;
  • The International Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights;
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Based on these different rules, the ICJ concluded that the construction of the wall, in addition to the measures taken previously, severely impeded the exercise by the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination and was thus a breach of Israel’s obligation to respect that right. In addition, the Court asserted that the construction of the wall and the regime associated with it violated the relevant provision of the Hague Regulations of 1907, as well as the fourth Geneva Convention. It also interfered with the freedom of movement of the inhabitants of the territory as guaranteed by the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and their exercise of the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living as proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The ICJ rejected the limitation or derogation clauses and contained in certain international instruments, as well as the arguments of self-defense and necessity raised by Israel.

Advisory Opinion of 09-07-2004.pdf

This summary of the facts of this case and the proceedings is only proposed for informational purposes, does not engage Dome in any way and cannot replace the careful reading of the judgments and orders of the case.