"Let the first act of every morning be to make the
following resolve for the day:
I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
I shall fear only God.
I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up
with all suffering." - Mahatma Gandhi
Statement Of Facts
Under President Taft 2, the United States launched its first armed intervention
in Nicaragua. He ordered the assassination of Nicaraguan President Jos Santos Zelaya in 1909. A contingent of 2,300 US Marines landed at the port of Corinto
in August and September 1912 and captured Le'n and the railway connection to
During the occupation, a pro-US government was formed. The Bryan Chamorro
Treaty, signed ten days before the U.S.operated Panama Canal opened for use,
granted the United States perpetual canal rights in Nicaragua, barring anybody
from building a rival canal without U.S. Consent.
A significant peasant rebellion against both the US occupation and the
Nicaraguan establishment began in 1927, led by Augusto C'sar Sandino. The
Marines left Nicaragua in 1933, leaving the Nicaraguan National Guard to handle
internal security and elections. The head of the National Guard, Anastasio
Somoza Garca, ordered his forces to seize and assassinate Sandino in 1934.
Somoza took over the presidency in 1937 while still in charge of the National
Guard, and established a family run dictatorship that lasted until 1979.
The regime's demise is blamed on the misappropriation of millions of dollars in
international aid given to the country in reaction to the terrible earthquake of
1972. In the face of mounting revolutionary fervour, many moderate supporters of
the dictatorship began to abandon it. The Sandinista (FSLN) organisation
coordinated relief, grew in power, and eventually took over the revolution's
leadership. The FSLN came to power in 1979 after a popular revolt.
The US had long opposed the socialist FSLN, and following the revolution, the
Carter administration moved rapidly to provide financial and material support to
the Somocistas. When Ronald Reagan gained office, he increased direct backing
for an antiSandinista group known as the Contras, which comprised former
dictatorship loyalists. These insurgents established bases in the border areas
of Honduras and Costa Rica.
The Contra army grew to about 15,000 soldiers by themid1980s.By December 1981,
the US had begun supporting Contra activities against the Sandinista government,
with the CIA at the forefront of operations. The CIA provided the finances and
equipment, as well as coordinating training programmes, intelligence, and target
lists. While the Contras had few military victories, they did show that they
could carry out CIA guerrilla warfare strategies such as inciting mob violence,
"neutralising" civilian leaders and government officials, and attacking "soft
targets" such as schools, health clinics, and cooperatives, according to
Because Congress refused to provide additional aid to the Contras, the Reagan
administration sought finance and military equipment from foreign countries and
private sources. This method was used to generate $34 million from third
countries and $2.7 million from private sources between 1984 and 1986. The
National Security Council oversaw the secret contra support, with officer Lt.
Col. Oliver North in command. North used the thirdparty cash to establish The
Enterprise, which operated as the NSC's covert arm and had its own planes,
pilots, airport, ship, operatives, and secret Swiss bank accounts.
It also got help from other government agencies, particularly in Central
America, from CIA officers. This operation, on the other hand, functioned
without any of the accountability requirements that the US government imposes on
its actions. The Enterprise's operations resulted in the IranContra Affair,
which allowed contra finance through the revenues of military shipments to Iran
from 1986 to 1987.
Analysis Of Court�s Jurisdiction
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the UN's "primary judicial organ."
The ICJ Statute, which is an annex to and "integral part" of the United Nations
Charter, governs the tribunal's operations. All United Nations membernations are
also parties to the ICJ Statute under Article 93 of the Charter, which United
States signed in 1945.
Despite being a component of the United Nations system, the International Court
of Justice (ICJ) does not have jurisdiction over all disputes involving UN
member states. The ICJ can only decide legal issues between nations that freely
committed to its jurisdiction, with the exception of "advisory opinions," which
are non-binding. Some nations have submitted declarations submitting to the
ICJ's mandatory jurisdiction in a wide range of issues mentioned in Article
36(2) of the ICJ Statute.
In 1946, the United States made such a proclamation. However, it withdrew that
pronouncement in 1985 after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) recognized
jurisdiction over a dispute with Nicaragua that the Reagan Administration
claimed was a "inherently political situation" that should not be resolved
through the courts.
The US refused to take part in the proceedings, claiming that the International
Court of Justice (ICJ) lacked authority to hear the case. It's worth noting that
the United States, as the responding party, was the only one to challenge the
court's ruling, claiming that it made a decision over which it "had neither the
jurisdiction nor the competence to render." The United States contended that the
Court lacked jurisdiction, dismissing the Court as a "semilegal, semijuridical,
semipolitical organisation, which governments sometimes accept and sometimes
reject," according to US Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick.
In the present case, Nicaragua (P) brought a suit against the United States (D) on
the ground that the United States was responsible for illegal military and
paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua. The United States contested
the International Court of Justice's jurisdiction to hear the case, as well as
the admissibility of Nicaragua's (P) application to the I.C.J.
When it was found guilty of illegal military and paramilitary actions in and
against Nicaragua (P) in a matter brought by the plaintiff in 1984, the United
States (D) contested the I.C.J's jurisdiction. Despite the fact that the United
States (D) deposited a declaration accepting the Court's mandatory jurisdiction
in 1946, it attempted 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..."
In addition to claiming that the I.C.J. lacked jurisdiction, the States (D)
claimed that Nicaragua (P) had neglected to file a similar declaration with the
Court. When it filed charges in the I.C.J. against the United States, Nicaragua
(P) based its argument on its reliance on the 1946 declaration made by the
United States (D) because it was a "state accepting the same obligation" as the
United States (D).
The plaintiff's willingness to submit to the I.C.J.'s compulsory jurisdiction
was further demonstrated by a valid declaration it filed with the I.C.J.'s
predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice, in 1929, despite
Nicaragua's failure to deposit it with that court. The United States also
questioned the admissibility of Nicaragua's (P) application to the International
Court of Justice (D).
In The Present Case, The Following Issues Related To The Jurisdiction Of The ICJ
The following were held:
- Is it within the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to
hear a dispute between two states if both governments recognise the Court's
- Is it permissible for a state to apply to the International Court of
Justice if there are no grounds to reject its application?
The Framing Of Issues
The following issues were framed:
- With regards to issue one, The answer is yes. The International Court of
Justice has jurisdiction over a dispute between two states if each of the
parties accepts the Court's jurisdiction. The Nicaragua (P) declaration of
1929 was legal despite the fact that it was not submitted with the Permanent
Court because of the long-term effect it could have.
Because the declaration was made
unconditionally and was valid for an unlimited period, it retained its impact
when Nicaragua became a party to the Statute of the International Court of
Justice. The current Statute was written with the goal of preserving as much
continuity as possible between it and the Permanent Court. As a result, when
Nicaragua (P) approved the Statute, the plaintiff consented to the transmission
of its declaration to the International Court of Justice.
- With regards to issue two,The answer was also 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. To shed light on the situation,
The four grounds upon which the United States (D) challenged the admissibility
of Nicaragua's (P) application were:
- That the plaintiff failed because there is no "indispensable parties" rule
when it could not bring forth necessary parties
- Nicaragua's (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
- 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. To explain, The Contadora Group was formed in the early 1980s by
Colombia's, Mexico's, Panama's, and Venezuela's foreign ministers to address the
Central American issue (military conflicts in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and
Guatemala), which threatened to destabilise the entire region.
- Whether the the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction to rule on the
- Whether the United States interfering with Nicaraguan sovereignty by
recruiting, training, arming, equipping, financing, providing, and otherwise
encouraging, supporting, helping, and directing military and paramilitary acts
in and against Nicaragua through the contras?
- Whether the United States violated Article 2 of the United Nations Charter,
Articles 18 and 20 of the Charter on the Organization of American States, and
Article 8 of the Convention on States' Rights and Duties?
- Whether the the United States violated international law by engaging in a slew
of unethical military operations against Nicaragua?
The Violated Articles In Question
A The following are the laws that were claimed to have been violated by the
- Article 2 of the UN Charter
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or
use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any
state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United
- Article 8 of the Convention on the Rights and Duties of the States
No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of
- Article 18 of the Charter on the Organization of the American States
The American States bind themselves in their international relations not to have
recourse to the use of force, except in the case of self-defense in accordance
with existing treaties or in fulfillment thereof.
- Article 20 of the Charter on the Organization of the American States
All international disputes that may arise between the American States shall be
submitted to the peaceful procedures set forth in this Charter, before being
referred to the Security Council of the United Nations.
Contention Of The Parties
Nicaragua claimed 3:
- That the United States had violated its treaty obligations to Nicaragua by
recruiting, training, arming, equipping, financing, supplying, and otherwise
encouraging, supporting, aiding, and directing military and paramilitary
actions in and against Nicaragua in violation of: Article 2 (4) of the
United Nations Charter; Articles 18 and 20 of the Organization of American
States Charter; Article 8 of the Convention on the Rights and Duties of
States; and Article I, Third, of the Convention concerning the Duties and
Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife.
- That the United States had violated customary international law by:
- Infringing on Nicaragua's sovereignty through armed attacks by air, land,
and sea; incursions into Nicaraguan territorial waters; aerial trespass into
Nicaraguan airspace; and efforts to coerce and intimidate the Nicaraguan
government through direct and indirect means.
- Using and threatening to use force against Nicaragua.
- Interfering in Nicaragua's domestic affairs.
- Trespassing on the high seas' freedom and disrupting peaceful maritime
- Murdering, injuring, and kidnapping Nicaraguans.
Nicaragua urged that all such activities be stopped, and that the US pay
reparations to the government for the harm done to its people, property, and
In contrast to Nicaragua's legitimate and well-structured charges, It's worth
noting that the United States, as the responding party, was the only one to
challenge the court's ruling, claiming that it made a decision over which it
"had neither the jurisdiction nor the competence to render." Quite in character
for an oppressive imperialist nation with no moral standing.
Judgment Of The ICJ
The following was adjudged by the 13 judges1 of the ICJ on June 27, 1986:
- The Court decides that in deciding the dispute brought before it by the
Republic of Nicaragua's Application dated 9 April 1984, the Court must apply
the "multilateral treaty reservation" contained in proviso (c) to the
declaration of acceptance of jurisdiction made by the Government of the
United States of America on 26 August 1946 under Article 36, paragraph 2 of
the Statute of the Court;
- Rejects the United States of America's rationale of collective
self-defense in connection with military and paramilitary activity in and
against Nicaragua, the subject of this case;
- Decides that the United States of America has acted against the Republic
of Nicaragua in violation of its obligation under customary international
law not to intervene in the affairs of another State by training, arming,
equipping, financing, and supplying the contra forces, or by otherwise
encouraging, supporting, and aiding military and paramilitary activities in
and against Nicaragua;
- Decides that the United States of America, by certain attacks on
Nicaraguan territory in 1983-1984, namely attacks on Puerto Sandino on 13 September and 14
October 1983, an attack on Corinto on 10 October 1983; an attack on Potosi Naval
Base on 4/5 January 1984, an attack on San Juan del Sur on 7 March 1984; attacks
on patrol boats at Puerto Sandino on 28 and 30 March 1984; and an attack on San
Juan del Norte on 9 April 1984; and further by those acts of intervention
referred to in subparagraph (3) hereof which involve the use of force, has
acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under
customary international law not to use force against another State;
- Decides that the United States of America has acted against the Republic
of Nicaragua in violation of its obligation under customary international
law not to violate the sovereignty of another State by directing or authorising
overflights over Nicaraguan territory, and by the acts imputable to the United
States referred to in subparagraph (4) hereof;
- Decides that the United States of America acted against the Republic of
Nicaragua by planting mines in its internal or territorial waters during the
first months of 1984, in violation of its obligations under customary
international law not to use force against another State, not to intervene
in its affairs, not to violate its sovereignty, and not to disrupt peaceful
- Decides that the United States of America has acted in violation of its
obligations under Article XIX of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and
Navigation between the United States of America and the Republic of
Nicaragua, signed at Managua on January 21, 1956, by the acts referred to in
subparagraph (6) hereof;
- Decides that the United States of America has breached its
responsibilities under customary international law in this regard by
neglecting to disclose the presence and position of the mines placed by it,
as referred to in subparagraph (6) hereof;
- Finding that the United States of America encouraged the commission of
acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law by producing and
disseminating a manual entitled 'Operaciones sicol gicas en guerra de
guerrillas' in 1983, but finds no basis for concluding that any such acts
committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United
States of America;
- Decides that the United States of America has committed acts calculated
to deprive the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation between the
Parties, signed at Managua on 21 January 1956, of its object and purpose, by
the attacks on Nicaraguan territory referred to in subparagraph (4) hereof
and by declaring a general embargo on trade with Nicaragua on 1 May 1985;
- Decides that the United States of America has breached its obligations
under Article XIX of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation
between the Parties, signed at Managua on 21 January 1956, by attacking
Nicaraguan territory and declaring a general embargo on trade with Nicaragua
on 1 May 1985;
- Decides that the United States of America has an urgent legal need to
halt and desist from all conduct that might be construed as breaches of the
preceding legal requirements;
- Decides that the United States of America is obligated to compensate the
Republic of Nicaragua for whatever harm caused to Nicaragua as a result of
the above-mentioned violations of customary international law commitments;
- Decides that the United States of America is obligated to make
reparations to the Republic of Nicaragua for all damage caused to Nicaragua
by breaches of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation between
the Parties, signed at Managua on January 21, 1956;
- Decides that, absent agreement between the Parties, the form and amount
of such reparation will be determined by the Court, and reserves the
subsequent procedure in the case for this purpose; Decides that the form and
amount of such reparation will be determined by the Court,
- Reminds all parties of their commitment to seek a peaceful resolution to
their differences in conformity with international law.
Effect Of The Decision On Development Of Pil
- In terms of the use of aggressive military action against a sovereign
country, this case can be regarded a seismic shift in public international
- In many ways, the decision clarifies concerns regarding the use of force
ban and the right to self-defense. The United States' equipping and training
of the Contras, as well as the planting of mines in Nicaraguan territorial
waters, were held to be in violation of the principles of non-intervention
and non-use of force.
- Although Nicaragua's interactions with the armed opposition in El
Salvador may be regarded a violation of the principle of non-intervention
and the prohibition of the use of force, they did not amount to "an armed
attack," as the phrasing in article 51 supporting the right to self-defense
- The Court also looked at the US argument that it was acting in
collective self-defense of El Salvador and decided that the prerequisites
for this had not been met since El Salvador had never requested US aid on
the basis of self-defense.
- With regards to placing mines, the court said :"...the placing of mines
in the seas of another State without any notice or notification is not only
an unlawful conduct, but also a breach of the humanitarian law principles
underpinning the Hague Convention No. VIII of 1907.
Before we continue further, some definitions are necessary for the sake of
The Latin term opinio juris sive necessitatis means "an opinion of law or
necessity." Opinio juris is a short version of that expression.The second
ingredient required to establish a legally enforceable custom in customary
international law is opinio juris. Opinio juris signifies a subjective duty on
the part of a state, a sense that the law in issue binds it. This criteria is
reflected in the International Court of Justice's Statute, Article 38(1)(b),
which states that the custom to be adopted must be "recognised as law."
In the context of international law, state practise refers to the actions taken
by a state in order to fulfil its legal obligations. "The Court's rulings reveal
that a State relying on an alleged international custom observed by States must,
in general, prove to the Court's satisfaction that this custom has become so
established as to be legally obligatory on the other party," according to the
International Court of Justice.
International obligations emerging from established international practises, as
opposed to duties arising from formal written conventions and treaties, are
referred to as customary international law. Customary international law is the
product of nations' common and consistent practise, which they follow out of a
perception of legal responsibility.
In the present case, The court opted to utilise customary law in its ruling. The
court had the responsibility of ensuring that the principles of customary law
were applicable in this situation. Opinio juris and state practise had to be
established in order to infer that it was indeed a customary law.
The court stated that opinio Juris could be easily determined by looking at the
resolutions issued by the General Assembly. What the ruling lacked, however, was
the presence of state practise. Many scholars held the opinion that establishing
state practise was more important than opinio juris. Opinio Juris would only be
considered when State Practice had been substantiated beyond a shadow of a
While justifying its judgement, the Court emphasised that states' action should
be consistent with established rules, and that any contradictory activity should
be viewed as a violation of that rule rather than the creation of a new rule. As
a result, establishing opinio juris requires just the universal approval of
member states.This ruling made this a historic decision since it contradicted
established practise and opinions.
My Personal Analysis And Recommendations
It is pertinent to express my personal opinions, which are based on facts,
towards the USA before we proceed further.
Throughout its short history, the United States has invaded or fought in 84 of
the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations and has been militarily
involved with 191 of 193 � a staggering 98 percent. The United States has been
involved in numerous foreign interventions throughout its history.
.All of this can easily be explained by the shocking phenomenon known as
American imperialism. It refers to measures aiming at spreading the United
States' political, economic, and cultural power beyond its borders. Military
conquest, gunboat diplomacy, unfair treaties, subsidization of chosen groups,
economic infiltration through private corporations followed by diplomatic or
violent intervention when those interests are challenged, or regime change are
all possibilities, depending on the external observer.
The US has also been
condemned for neocolonialism, which is often characterised as a modern kind of
hegemony that leverages economic rather than military dominance in an informal
empire and is frequently used interchangeably with contemporary imperialism.
Although American imperialism was forceful and militarised, truthfully, it was
essentially a masterplan of economic penetration, substituting money in commerce
and investment for troops and weapons in wars and occupations. American military
forces did frequently intervene abroad as part of the imperialist quest of areas
in which to invest, manufacture cheaply, find consumers, or trade, but they
usually pulled out after those lands were made secure for American political and
economic objectives, often leaving proxy armies and puppet governments in their
Seeing American history, and being aware of its struggle of independence from
the Oppressive British empire, which us Indians were too a colony of, It seems
almost ironic, considering America's famously advertised principles of
sovereignty, democracy, liberty, and independence.
In the present case, simply by having a glance of the imperial history of the
USA in general, and with regards to Nicaragua particular, we can see that
America are the aggressors. In this case, it was a success for the Nicaraguan
government and people, as well as a setback for the US administration. Because
the United States is a worldwide political powerhouse, the court overcame all
limits and diplomatic pressure imposed on it in reaching this decision. This can
be seen as a huge accomplishment for the court since it was able to defy
American pressure and render an unbiased ruling, inflicting a legal blow to
imperialist countries throughout the world by establishing a valuable
anti-political interference precedent.
In fact, I'd like to point out that the US declined to participate in the
proceedings, claiming that the ICJ had jurisdiction to hear the case,
underscoring how morally misguided they were. Sadly, we live in a world where
American tyranny is tolerated and unpunished. The United States obstructed the
UN Security Council's execution of the ruling, preventing Nicaragua from
receiving any compensation. Nicaragua, under Violeta Chamorro's post-FSLN
administration, dropped the lawsuit from the court in September 1992, after the
provision requiring the country to seek compensation was repealed.
About a year following the Court's jurisdictional judgement, the US took the
even more drastic step of withdrawing its consent to the Court's mandatory
jurisdiction, thereby terminating a 40-year legal commitment to binding
international adjudication. After a 6-month notice of termination was provided
to the United Nations by the Secretary of State on October 7, 1985, the
Declaration of Acceptance of the General Compulsory Jurisdiction of the
International Court of Justice came to an end.
Despite the fact that the Court ordered the US to "stop and desist" from using
unlawful force against Nicaragua and noted that it was "in breach of its
commitment under customary international law not to use force against another
state" and ordered it to pay reparations, the US refused. As a permanent member
of the Security Council, the United States has been able to prevent Nicaragua
from using any enforcement procedure.
On November 3, 1986, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding
resolution encouraging the United States States to comply by a vote of 94-3 (El
Salvador, Israel (what a surprise), and the United States voted against).
To conclude, taking into account all the aforementioned details of the situation
pre, during, and post the trial, I say that although the ICJ took a stern stance
towards the US's imperialist policies, It wasn't able to enforce any punishments
While not carved in stone4, it is expected that five justices from Western
nations, three from Africa, two from Eastern Europe, three from Asia, and two
from Latin America and the Caribbean will sit on the International Court of
Justice. On the World Court, each of the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council has one judge. This implies that the US, Russia, China, the UK,
and France are always represented on the court by a judge (except when China did
not submit a candidate from 1967 to 1985).
Thus America is always guaranteed to have a strong influence in the ICJ, as is
seen in this case. A pertinent fact that I'd like to highlight is that the
dissenting opinion given by American Judge Schwebel was twice as long as the
actual judgment, and reeked of imperialist bias and hypocrisy.
The fact of the matter is that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) can hear
adversarial proceedings between nations (known as "contentious matters") in
order to resolve active conflicts (and the court can render certain, non-binding
advisory opinions). Even when it comes to states, the ICJ has only consent-based
jurisdiction, not mandatory jurisdiction. The ICJ cannot consider a case if
there is a disagreement between two governments and one of them has not accepted
to World Court jurisdiction by treaty, special agreement after the conflict has
arisen, or other proclamation.
Because not all states have given their approval, the Court's most serious flaw
is its consent jurisdiction. States can withdraw their consent at any time, and
their reservations to Article 36(2) frequently render their consent worthless.
Second, when the Court endeavours to exercise its mandatory jurisdiction, there
is a possibility that parties will fail to present.
During the 1970s and 1980s, there were several instances of nonappearance, the
most prominent of which being the American absenteeism in the Nicaragua case.
The absence of parties raises worries about a lack of fairness, perhaps
compromising the ultimate judgement. The legal procedure, on the other hand, may
States have also been known to ignore the Court's decisions in the past. Despite
the fact that the Court's decisions can be enforced by a Security Council
resolution, there is no international police force to ensure compliance.
Instead, peer pressure from other states is used to enforce the law.
In the present case, The United States refused to recognise the court's ruling
and rescinded its prior acknowledgment of the court's jurisdiction in this
matter. The US also refused to pay the amount that the Court had set. The case
is frequently cited as an example of the International Court of Justice's
incapacity to implement its judgements, since it is frequently emasculated by
the very countries who formed it.
My recommendations are:
- To make the ICJ's judgement more enforceable in law.
- To remove imperialist bias and level the playing field by lessening the
authority of each of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
- To counter its lack of pro-activity on the international stage by
assigning more cases to the ICJ. Since its creation in 1946, 181 cases have
been entered onto the General List for consideration before the court. This
number is far too low for the amount of international friction that has
occurred during this period.
- To quicken the process of providing judgements, as many cases drag on
for several years only to end with an unsatisfactory judgement.
- To ensure more justice by giving standing for non-state entities.