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Pretty v.

United Kingdom , (2346/02) [2002] ECHR 423 (29 April 2002)

Facts: the applicant was dying of a neuron disease. She was paralyzed but could make decisions.
She wanted to die to be spared of suffering and indignity but could not do it by herself. She thus
wanted her husband to help her commit suicide. However, it was a crime to assist another to
commit suicide under the British laws and her request to guarantee her husband freedom from
prosecution if he helped her was refused.

Complaint: The applicant claimed that the U.K. violated Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment), Article 2 (right to life), Article 8 (right to respect for private
life), Article 9 (freedom of conscience) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination)

Holding: the ECHR found no violation of article 2, 3, 8, 9 and 14

Reasoning: Article 2 1 enjoined States to refrain from the unlawful taking of life and to take
appropriate steps to safeguard lives. Article 2 could not be interpreted as conferring a right to die
so there was no violation of article 2. Moreover, as article 3 was construed in conjunction with
Article 2 there was no violation of article 3 either.

North Sea Continental Shelf Cases (Federal Republic of Germany v. Denmark; Federal Republic
of Germany v. Netherlands)

Brief Fact Summary. The view that customary rules of international law determined the
boundaries of areas located on the continental shelf between their countries and the Federal
Republic of Germany (D) was contended by Denmark (P) and the Netherlands (P).

Synopsis of Rule of Law. For a custom to become binding as international law, it must amount
to a settled practice and must be rendered obligatory by a rule requiring it.

Facts. That the boundaries between their respective areas of the continental shelf in the North
Sea and the area claimed by the Federal Republic of Germany (D), should be determined by the
application of the principle of equidistance as set forth in Article 6 of the Geneva Convention of
1958 on the Continental Shelf, which by January 1, 1969 had been ratified or acceded to by 39
states but to which Germany was not a party, was the basis of Denmarks (D) and the
Netherlands (P) contention.
Because the use of the delimitation method was not merely a conventional obligation, but a rule
that was part of the corpus of general international law and like other rules of general or
customary international law, which was binding automatically on Germany (D), independent of
any specific assent, direct or indirect, given by Germany (D), Denmark (P) and the Netherlands
(P) contended that Germany (D) was bound to accept the delimitation on an equidistance basis.

Issue. Must delimitation be the object of an equitable agreement between the states involved?

Held. Yes. Delimitation must be the object of an equitable agreement between the states
involved. As stipulated in Article 6 of the Geneva Convention, equidistance principle is not part
of customary international law. Article 6 makes the obligation to use the equidistance method a
secondary one which comes into play only when agreements between the parties are absent.
Although the principle of equidistance is not given a fundamental norm-creating character by
Article 6, which is necessary to the formation of a general rule of law.
In this case, after taking into consideration all relevant circumstances, the delimitation here is to
be excused by equitable agreement.

Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States)

Brief Fact Summary. Nicaragua (P) brought a suit against the United States (D) on the ground
that the United States (D) was responsible for illegal military and paramilitary activities in and
against Nicaragua. The jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to entertain the case as
well as the admissibility of Nicaraguas (P) application to the I.C.J. was challenged by the United
States (D).

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Nicaragua (P) brought a suit against the United States (D) on the
ground that the United States (D) was responsible for illegal military and paramilitary activities
in and against Nicaragua. The jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to entertain the
case as well as the admissibility of Nicaraguas (P) application to the I.C.J. was challenged by
the United States (D).

Facts. The United States (D) challenged the jurisdiction of the I.C.J when it was held responsible
for illegal military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua (P) in the suit the plaintiff
brought against the defendant in 1984. Though a declaration accepting the mandatory
jurisdiction of the Court was deposited by the United States (D) in a 1946, it tried to justify the
declaration in a 1984 notification by referring to the 1946 declaration and stating in part that the
declaration shall not apply to disputes with any Central American State.
Apart from maintaining the ground that the I.C.J lacked jurisdiction, the States (D) also argued
that Nicaragua (P) failed to deposit a similar declaration to the Court. On the other hand,
Nicaragua (P) based its argument on its reliance on the 1946 declaration made by the United
states (D) due to the fact that it was a state accepting the same obligation as the United States
(D) when it filed charges in the I.C.J. against the United States (D).
Also, the plaintiff intent to submit to the compulsory jurisdiction of the I.C.J. was pointed out by
the valid declaration it made in 1929 with the I.C.Js predecessor, which was the Permanent
Court of International Justice, even though Nicaragua had failed to deposit it with that court. The
admissibility of Nicaraguas (P) application to the I.C.J. was also challenged by the United States
(D).

Issue. (1) Is the jurisdiction to entertain a dispute between two states, if they both accept the
Courts jurisdiction, within the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice?
(2) Where no grounds exist to exclude the application of a state, is the application of such a state
to the International Court of Justice admissible?

Held. (1) Yes. The jurisdiction of the Court to entertain a dispute between two states if each of
the States accepted the Courts jurisdiction is within the jurisdiction of the International Court of
Justice. Even though Nicaragua (P) declaration of 1929 was not deposited with the Permanent
Court, because of the potential effect it had that it would last for many years, it was valid.
Thus, it maintained its effect when Nicaragua became a party to the Statute of the I.C.J because
the declaration was made unconditionally and was valid for an unlimited period. The intention of
the current drafters of the current Statute was to maintain the greatest possible continuity
between it and the Permanent Court. Thus, when Nicaragua (P) accepted the Statute, this would
have been deemed that the plaintiff had given its consent to the transfer of its declaration to the
I.C.J.
(2) Yes. When no grounds exist to exclude the application of a state, the application of such a
state to the International Court of Justice is admissible. The five grounds upon which the United
States (D) challenged the admissibility of Nicaraguas (P) application were that the plaintiff
failed because there is no indispensable parties rule when it could not bring forth necessary
parties, Nicaraguas (P) request of the Court to consider the possibility of a threat to peace which
is the exclusive province of the Security Council, failed due to the fact that I.C.J. can exercise
jurisdiction which is concurrent with that of the Security Council, that the I.C.J. is unable to deal
with situations involving ongoing armed conflict and that there is nothing compelling the I.C.J.
to decline to consider one aspect of a dispute just because the dispute has other aspects due to the
fact that the case is incompatible with the Contadora process to which Nicaragua (P) is a party.
Discussion. Although the questions of jurisdiction and admissibility are primarily based on the
principle that the I.C.J. has only as much power as that agreed to by the parties, these can be
quite complicated. The 1946 declaration of the United States and the 1929 declaration of
Nicaragua was the main focus of the case on declaration and each of these declarations pointed
out the respective parties intent as it related to the I.C.Js jurisdiction.

Reservations to the Convention on Genocide.

Citation. I.C.J., Advisory Opinion, 1951 I.C.J. 15.


Brief Fact Summary. Reservations to various provisions to the U.N. Conventions on Genocide
were effected by several signatories states to it.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A reservation to the U.N. Convention on Genocide may be effected
by a state and still be considered a signatory thereto.

Facts. The convention on Genocide was unanimously adopted by the United Nations in 1951.
Several states made reservations to one or more of its provisions. An opinion as to whether a
party could express reservations and still be considered a signatory was laid before the
International Court of Justice.

Issue. May a reservation to the U.N. Convention on Genocide be made by a state and still be
considered a signatory thereto?

Held. Yes. A reservation to the U.N. Convention on Genocide may be effected by a state and
still be considered a signatory thereto. In a multilateral treaty, as long as the reservation does not
defeat the purpose of the treaty, a reservation is permitted. By virtue of its sovereignty, it has
been argued that a state may effect any reservation. In this case, the validity of each reservation
must be examined on a case-by-case basis since numerous reservations were made by different
states. (The court held that the state objecting to a reservation could if it desired, consider the
reserving state not to be a party to the Convention.

Discussion. Politics was at play in this case as it has also been in other cases. Going by
precedence, international law usually held that reservations to a multilateral treaty had to be
accepted by all other parties. Unanimous acceptance of the Convention would not have made the
Convention possible if the rule was followed. The Court was undoubtedly determined to
facilitate such unanimity
United States Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (US vs Iran, ICJ Reports 1980)

Facts
On 4 November 1979 there was an armed attack by Iranian students on the United States
Embassy in Tehran and they overtook it. The students, belonging to the Muslim Student
Followers of the Imam's Line, did this as an act of support to the Iranian Revolution. More than
sixty American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days (until January 20, 1981).
Some of the hostages were released earlier, but 52 hostages were held hostage until the end.
Although Iran had promised protection to the U.S. Embassy, the guards disappeared during the
takeover and the government of Iran did not attempt to stop it or rescue the hostages. The U.S.
arranged to meet with Iranian authorities to discuss the release of the hostages, but Ayatollah
Khomeini (the leader of the Iranian Revolution) forbid officials to meet them. The U.S. ceased
relations with Iran, stopped U.S. exports, oil imports, and Iranian assets were blocked.

Judgments
The first decision was an Order of Provisional Measures, issued December 15, 1979. This was
the court issuing an opinion not on the merits underlying the case specifically, but rather ordering
a preservation of the respective rights and obligations the two countries owed one another
pending the final decision of the court. More specifically, the Court unanimously declared Iran
should ensure the restoration of the U.S. embassy in Tehran to U.S. possession, release the
hostages, and afford diplomatic officials full protections as afforded by international law.
The second decision addressed the actual merits of Iran's actions. Iran took no part in the
proceedings.
The case was the first real instance of the Court and the Security Council acting together to bring
a crisis to an end.
The ICJ considered the case in hand in two phases. The first phase referred to the armed attack
on the US Embassy in Tehran by militants and students of Iran. The question asked was whether
the militants and the students were 'agents' of the Iranian Government and therefore, acting on
their behalf. The second phase comprises the whole series of facts which occurred following the
completion of the occupation of the US Embassy by militants and the seizure of the Consulates.
The Court reached a judgement on 24 May 1980.[1]

Corfu Channel Case (United Kingdom v. Albania)

Citation. I.C.J. 1949 I.C.J 4. 22

Brief Fact Summary. The fact that the Albanian (P) authorities did not make the presence of
mines in its waters was the basis of the United Kingdom (D) claim against them.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. International obligations in peace time are created through elementary
consideration.

Facts. The explosion of mines in the Albanian (P) waters resulted in the death of a British naval
personnel. It was on this basis that the United Kingdom (D) claimed that Albania (P) was
internationally responsible for damages.

Issue. Are international obligations in time of peace created through elementary consideration?

Held. Yes. International obligations in peace time are created through elementary consideration.
Every state has an obligation not to knowingly allow its territory to be used for acts contrary to
the rights of other states.

Discussion. In this case, the Court found that the Hague Convention of 1907 could not be
applied but the Convention was applicable only in time of war. It was on the basis of the
principle of freedom of maritime communication that this case was decided.

Portugal Vs Australia

FACTS
Portugal administered East Timor as a non-self-governing territory under United Nations
Chapter XI. On 27th August 1975, due to internal disturbances caused by factions calling for
self-determination, Portugal withdrew from East Timor. Soon after its departure on 7th of
December 1975, Indonesia invaded and occupied East Timor; and in 1976 East Timor's People
Assembly formally sought to be integrated into Indonesia as part of its territorial dominion.
Later, on 20th of January 1978, Australia acknowledged de facto Indonesia's annexation of East
Timor which was then followed by de jure recognition in the following year.
A number of meetings between Portugal and Australia took place to resolve the issue in relation
to undefined continental shelf between Indonesia and Australian known as the 'Timor Gap'. The
failure to resolve the matter through talk between the two countries resulted in a treaty between
the two countries for exploration and exploitation of natural resources around the Timor Sea
seabed known as the Treaty between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia on the zone of
cooperation in an area between the Indonesian province of East Timor and Northern Australia.'
[1]

ISSUE

Portugal:
* Determination of the objectivity of the conduct of Australia in entering into a treaty with
Indonesia over the continental shelf.
Australia:
* Object to the jurisdiction of International Court of Justice and admissibility of the application;
* determination of the lawfulness or otherwise of Indonesia's entry and continuing administration
of East Timor;
* Whether the treaty over the continental shelf between Australia and Indonesia was lawful or
not.

Conclusion
Portugal had not officially relinquished its powers over East Timor, withdrawal of Portugal from
East Timor, signalled the call for self-determination by the East Timorese. East Timor remained
a non-self governing territory until force occupation by Indonesia. Portugal reiterated that East
Timor's call for self-determination arose from UN Charters and that it needed to be respected.
This treaty by Australia with Indonesia had also denied sovereignty over natural resources to
people East Timor.
On the other hand, Portugal is meddling in the internal affairs of Indonesia because as at the time
when the treaty of Continental Shelf' was entered into by Australia and Indonesia, Portugal had
effectively withdrawn its control and administration over
EastTimor. Indonesia, had therefore maintained effective control of East Timor firstly through
effective occupation and the subsequent request by the Peoples Assembly', a representative
body of East Timor to be integrated into Indonesia as its 47th province.
Furthermore, it would be a violation of the Art 36 (1) to bring proceedings where a state had not
consented to the jurisdiction of ICJ in the subject matter. Therefore, the issue at stake is not with
Australia but between Portugal and Indonesia. Portugal cannot dictate to two sovereign states
that had legitimately entered into a treaty that such conduct was not valid.