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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

¤ Application of the Convention on the Prevention
and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
(Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia),
Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 11 July 1996,
I.C.J. Reports 1996, p. 595

[pp. 612-613] 25. However, in the oral proceedings Yugoslavia submitted that, even supposing that Bosnia and Herzegovina had been bound by the Convention in March 1993, it could not, at that time, have entered into force between the Parties, because the two States did not recognize one another and the conditions necessary to found the consensual basis of the Court's jurisdiction were therefore lacking. However, this situation no longer obtains since the signature, and the entry into force on 14 December 1995, of the Dayton-Paris Agreement, Article X of which stipulates that:

"The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognize each other as sovereign independent States within their international borders. Further aspects of their mutual recognition will be subject to subsequent discussions."

26. For the purposes of determining its jurisdiction in this case, the Court has no need to settle the question of what the effects of a situation of non-recognition may be on the contractual ties between parties to a multilateral treaty. It need only note that, even if it were to be assumed that the Genocide Convention did not enter into force between the Parties until the signature of the Dayton-Paris Agreement, all the conditions are now fulfilled to found the jurisdiction of the Court ratione personae.

[p. 617] 34. Having reached the conclusion that it has jurisdiction in the present case, both ratione personae and ratione materiae on the basis of Article IX of the Genocide Convention, it remains for the Court to specify the scope of that jurisdiction ratione temporis. In its sixth and seventh preliminary objections, Yugoslavia, basing its contention on the principle of the non-retroactivity of legal acts, has indeed asserted as a subsidiary argument that, even though the Court might have jurisdiction on the basis of the Convention, it could only deal with events subsequent to the different dates on which the Convention might have become applicable as between the Parties. In this regard, the Court will confine itself to the observation that the Genocide Convention - and in particular Article IX - does not contain any clause the object or effect of which is to limit in such manner the scope of its jurisdiction ratione temporis, and nor did the Parties themselves make any reservation to that end, either to the Convention or on the occasion of the signature of the Dayton-Paris agreement. The Court thus finds that it has jurisdiction in this case to give effect to the Genocide Convention with regard to the relevant facts which have occurred since the beginning of the conflict which took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This finding is, moreover, in accordance with the object and purpose of the Convention as defined by the Court in 1951 and referred to above (see paragraph 31).