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World Court Digest

I. Substantive International Law - First Part
4.2. States
4.2.5. Fundamental Rights and Obligations Settlement of Disputes

¤ Military and Paramilitary Activities
(Nicaragua/United States of America)
Merits. J. 27.6.1986
I.C.J.Reports 1986, p. 14

[p. 145] The Court has however also to recall a further principle of international law, one which is complementary to the principles of a prohibitive nature examined above, and respect for which is essential in the world of today: the principle that the parties to any dispute, particularly any dispute the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, should seek a solution by peaceful means. Enshrined in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter, which also indicates a number of peaceful means which are available, this principle has also the status of customary law.
In its Order indicating provisional measures, the Court took note of the Contadora Process, and of the fact that it had been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly (I.C.J. Reports 1984, pp. 183-184, para. 34). During that phase of the proceedings as during the phase devoted to jurisdiction and admissibility, both Nicaragua and the United States have expressed full support for the Contadora Process, and praised the results achieved so far. Therefore, the Court could not but take cognizance of this effort, which merits full respect and consideration as a unique contribution to the solution of the difficult situation in the region. The Court is aware that considerable progress has been achieved on the main objective of the process, namely agreement on texts relating to arms control and reduction, exclusion of foreign military bases or military interference and withdrawal of foreign advisers, prevention of arms traffic, stopping the support of groups aiming at the destabilization of any of the Governments concerned, guarantee of human rights and enforcement of democratic processes, as well as on cooperation for the creation of a mechanism for the verification of the agreements concerned. The work of the Contadora Group may facilitate the delicate and difficult negotiations, in accord with the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter, that are now required. The Court recalls to both Parties to the present case the need to cooperate with the Contadora efforts in seeking a definitive and lasting peace in Central America, in accordance with the principle of customary international law that prescribes the peaceful settlement of international disputes.