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Authors

Frank Berman

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Oil Platforms was a treaty case. Although it grew out of a much deeper dispute, involving not just the United States but numerous other States, about the military tactics employed during the Iran-Iraq war, and although that dispute revolved around the entitlement of the belligerents under general international law to damage the interests of third States, the ICJ's jurisdiction to hear the case brought before it depended on the 1955 bilateral Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights between Iran and the United States. In the words of Judge Kooijmans, it was "a dispute which originated in the use of force but was brought to the Court as a violation of treaty guaranteed freedom of commerce."' It followed that, in accordance with the Court's established jurisprudence, the only substantive disputes on which it was entitled to pronounce were those falling within the jurisdictional clause in that Treaty. In this case (as the Court had already decided in the jurisdictional phase in 1996), that meant a dispute over the interpretation or application of Article X, paragraph 1. As framed in their closing Submissions, Iran claimed that in attacking and destroying the oil platforms the United States breached its obligations to Iran under Article X, paragraph 1. The United States in turn, while rejecting that claim on the merits, counter-claimed under the same provision against Iran's mine and missile attacks on vessels in the Gulf and other military actions said to be dangerous and detrimental to commerce and navigation.

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