Challenge and Defiance
June 26, 1951 — The Shreveport Times

The Mossadegh Project | June 3, 2021                    

An editorial on Iran in The Shreveport Times newspaper in Louisiana.

Iran and the World Court

The British government is asking the international court of justice at the Hague for an injunction to protect British rights in Iranian oil properties until the court has decided the legal merits of the British-Iranian dispute. But Iran has announced it will not be bound by any ruling the court may hand down.

Both Great Britain and Iran, as members of the United Nations, are parties to the statute of the World Court under the UN Charter. Moreover, both are among the 35 states which have registered declarations with the UN accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the international court of justice under Article 36 of the statute of the court.

This so-called “optional clause” provides that states so declaring accept jurisdiction of the World Court in disputes on:

1. Interpretation of treaties. 2. Questions of international law. 3. Existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute a breach of an international obligation. 4. Nature or extent of reparation to be made for breach of an international obligation.

But enforcement of a World Court ruling against Iran would prove difficult if not impossible if Iran refused to be bound. The statute itself says nothing about enforcement of rulings.

The UN Charter (Art. 94) says that:

1. Each member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of the international court of justice in any case to which it is a party.

2. If any party to case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may, if it deems necessary, make recomendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment.

If appealed to the Security Council, Britain’s case would probably draw a Russian veto. Neither the present court nor its predecessor, the permanent court of international justice of the League of Nations, warranted injunctions in the past. If enforcement of the judgments of the court injunction that might be granted would appear to have behind it only the force of world public opinion.

Moreover, one member of the British Commonwealth of Nations has already defied a judgment of the World Court. When it ruled in July 1950 that the Union of South Africa could not absorb South-West Africa but must continue its league mandate there, South African spokesmen said the union would defy the ruling. That dispute is still pending.

Richard Stokes’ Second Thoughts on Iranian Oil (1951 Letter)
Richard Stokes' Letter to Clement Attlee, Aga Khan Concurs (1951)


Related links:

Pres. Harry Truman and Dr. Mossadegh’s First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)

Possible Oil Solution | Buffalo Courier-Express, June 5, 1951

U.S. Certain To Get Blame In Iran Crisis | Ludwell Denny, July 31, 1952

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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