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World Court Digest

III. The International Court of Justice
2.5. Jurisdiction on the Basis of Treaties
2.5.1. General Questions

¤ LaGrand Case
(Germany v. United States of America)
Judgment of 27 June 2001

[p. D.O. Oda] 7. Suddenly, on 2 March 1999, Germany filed an "Application instituting proceedings ... for violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations" (Application, introductory paragraph) in the Registry of the Court pursuant to the Statute of the Court, Article 40, paragraph 1, and the Rules of Court, Article 38, paragraph 1.

It was at that point that the United States could have first discovered that it was involved in a "dispute" arising out of the interpretation or application of the Convention. It must have been very odd indeed for the United States to learn, only after proceedings had been brought against it, of the alleged existence of a "dispute".

The United States was informed by the Application filed by Germany on 2 March 1999 that Germany was claiming violations by the United States of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. I am surprised that Germany unilaterally brought this case under such circumstances. More than 17 years had already passed since the LaGrand brothers committed the crimes in January 1982 and were arrested on the same day. Nearly 15 years had passed since the Arizona state court sentenced them to death. During this period, Germany had done nothing to indicate that it had claims against the United States for violation of the Vienna Convention and that there was an issue giving rise to a "dispute" between the two countries.

[p. D.O. Oda] 10. I very much fear that the Court's acceptance of this Application presented unilaterally pursuant to the "optional clause" will in future lead States that have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court, either under Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute or under the Optional Protocol concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes attached to multilateral treaties, to withdraw their acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction.