|I. || Substantive International Law - First Part|
|5. || THE UNITED NATIONS|
|5.9. || Trusteeship System|
Certain Phosphate Lands in
Nauru (Nauru / Australia),
Preliminary Objections, Judgment,
I.C.J. Reports 1992, p. 240
[pp. 250-251] 22. Australia's third objection is that Nauru's claimis
"inadmissible on the ground that termination of the Trusteeship by the
United Nations precludes allegations of breaches of the Trusteeship Agreement
from now being examined by the Court".
Australia observes that "all the Nauruan allegations of breaches of
obligations" relate to "the administration of the territory"
placed under Trusteeship. Australia adds that "the competence to determine
any alleged breach of the Trusteeship Agreement and Article 76 of the Charter
rested exclusively with the Trusteeship Council and General Assembly"; that
when the General Assembly terminates a trust, "the whole system of
administrative supervision [comes] to an end"; and that
"in the absence of an express reservation recording a breach and an
outstanding responsibility on the Administering Authority, termination is
conclusive and operates as a complete discharge from all further responsibility".
According to Australia, Nauru therefore cannot now request the Court:
"to undertake the task of exploring again the performance of the
Trusteeship in order to overrule and contradict the conclusions and decisions
taken by the competent United Nations organs in the exercise of their functions
of supervision of the trusteeship system".
23. The Court notes that, by resolution 2347 (XXII) of 19 December 1967, the
General Assembly of the United Nations resolved
"in agreement with the Administering Authority, that the Trusteeship
Agreement for the Territory of Nauru ... shall cease to be in force upon the
accession of Nauru to independence on 31 January 1968".
Such a resolution had "definitive legal effect" (Northern
Cameroons, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1963, p. 32). Consequently, the
Trusteeship Agreement was "terminated" on that date and "is no
longer in force" (ibid., p. 37). In the light of these
considerations, it might be possible to question the admissibility of an action
brought against the Administering Authority on the basis of the alleged failure
by it to comply with its obligations with respect to the administration of the
Territory. However, the Court does not consider it necessary to enter into this
debate and will confine itself to examining the particular circumstances in
which the Trusteeship for Nauru was terminated.
[p. 322 D.O. Oda] 25. All claims arising from the implementation of
the Trusteeship could have been settled only under the United Nations mechanism.
No legal dispute within the meaning of Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute
could possibly have existed at that time with regard to the administration of
Nauru under the United Nations Trusteeship on the eve of Nauru's independence,
as no sovereign State was in a position to put forward a claim based on a
purported breach of the obligations entered into by Australia, New Zealand and
the United Kingdom, as the Administering Authority, during the Trusteeship
period. A question, however, might have been raised if there was indeed any
dispute outstanding between the independent State of Nauru and Australia, New
Zealand and the United Kingdom at the time of Nauru's accession to independence.
However, no claim to the rehabilitation of worked-out phosphate lands addressed
to the Administering Authority of the Trusteeship by the people of Nauru was
taken over by the State of Nauru at the time of independence in 1968. No United
Nations document under which Nauru gained independence showed any evidence of a
transfer of the claim or of the creation of a fresh claim for the independent
State of Nauru.