Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Francis Boyle on diplomacy through legal action

There is an interesting article on The Huffington Post retailing the views of Francis A Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, on the utility of a state's taking action in the World Court where it is threatened with direct military action by the United States and its allies. Professor Boyle refers to the precedent of Libya. The article reads in part:

'Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, proposes that Iran sue the United States, Britain, and Israel in the World Court, seeking the "international equivalent of a temporary restraining order" to compel the U.S. to abandon threats to attack. Boyle notes that threats to attack Iran violate the UN Charter, and that there is a relevant precedent for effective action by the World Court:

'There is a precedent here; [in]1992 ...the Bush Senior administration started to blame Libya for the Lockerbie bombing ... in 1988...President Bush Senior then sent the Sixth Fleet on hostile maneuvers off the coast of Libya, [and] had US jet fighters penetrating into Libyan airspace in order to provoke ... a confrontation...

'..we filed papers with the International Court of Justice in the Hague, on behalf of Libya against the US and the UK, we demanded an emergency hearing of the world court, and a temporary restraining order against the US and the UK, prohibiting the threat and use of force...after we filed the papers, and the court made it clear we were going to get our hearing, President Bush Senior ordered the 6th Fleet to stand down. They ended their hostile military maneuvers off the coast of Libya, the matter was submitted to the ICJ, there were hearings, a lawsuit, a judgment. And eventually that World Court judgment led to a peaceful negotiated solution of the Lockerbie dispute between the US and Britain on one hand and Libya on the other. And today there is normal diplomatic relations between these three countries... I think the same could be done here...

'Furthermore, Professor Boyle notes that the lawsuit itself could force the commencement of real negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, as it did in the Libyan case:

'If the United States government is not prepared to engage in reasonable direct unconditional good faith negotiations with Iran, then my advice is the Iranian government go forward with these lawsuits...if someone isn't going to talk to you, you sue them. And then they have to talk to you. And indeed it was during the course of the World Court lawsuit proceedings with Libya that the proceedings themselves were used to start negotiating a peaceful resolution of that dispute between the lawyers handling the lawsuit, because there were no diplomatic relations at that time between the United States, Britain, and Libya. So, again, the same could happen here...'

The full article can be read here.

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