Lack of Jurisdiction Cited: World Court Says No to Yugoslavia Request.


The International Court of Justice on 2 June rejected requests for the indication of provisional measures - orders to halt the use of force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) by 10 NATO countries - Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States - submitted by the FRY in its cases concerning the Legality of Use of Force. The World Court dismissed two cases (Yugoslavia v. Spain; Yugoslavia v. United States of America) altogether, having found that it manifestly lacked jurisdiction to entertain them.

In the eight other cases, the Court found that it lacked prima facie jurisdiction, which is a prerequisite for the issuance of provisional measures, and that it therefore could not indicate such measures. The Court would remain seized of those cases and had reserved the subsequent procedure for further decision.

In its reasoning, the Court expressed its deep concern "with the human tragedy, the loss of life, and the enormous suffering in Kosovo which form the background" of the dispute and "with the continuing loss of life and human suffering in all parts of Yugoslavia". It set out its profound concern with the use of force in Yugoslavia, which "under the present circumstances . . . raises very serious issues of international law", and emphasized that "all parties before it must act in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and other rules of international law, including humanitarian law". The Court explained that its jurisdiction depended upon consent, for there had to be acceptance by a State of the Court's jurisdiction before it could determine whether particular acts were compatible with international law.

The latter question could only be reached when the Court dealt with the merits, having established its jurisdiction and having heard full legal arguments by both parties. The Court stressed, however, that "whether or not States accept the jurisdiction of the Court, they remain in any event responsible for acts attributable to them that violate international law, including humanitarian law", and that "any disputes relating to the legality of such...

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