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Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council (India v. Pakistan)

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. I.C.J., 1972 I.C.J. 46

Brief Fact Summary.

That the I.C.J. did not have jurisdiction over a dispute regarding aviation treaties was the claim Pakistan (D) held against the I.C.J.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Jurisdictional clauses are not rendered inoperative by a mere unilateral suspension alone.


A complaint against India (P) was brought before the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) by Pakistan (D) for the violation of treaty provisions after India (P) unilaterally suspended flights of Pakistan (D) aircraft over Indian (P) territory. Based on the premise that Pakistan (D) had hijacked an Indian (P) plane, Indian (P) appealed to the I.C.J., asserting that it had suspended the treaty. Pakistan (D) objected to the jurisdiction of the I.C.J.’s on the ground that India’s (P) unilateral suspension had made the jurisdictional clauses inoperative.


Are jurisdictional clauses rendered inoperative by mere unilateral suspension?


No.  Jurisdictional clauses are not rendered inoperative by a mere unilateral suspension alone. If a mere allegation that a treaty was no longer operative could be used to defeat its jurisdictional clauses, then clauses of these nature would become potentially a dead letter. This implies that the Court does have jurisdiction.


The Court was able to deduce that any treaty could be destroyed by one party’s assertion that the treaty was no longer operative, thereby compromising the main goal the treaty seeks to achieve. It may precisely be one of the objects of jurisdictional clauses of a treaty to enable that matter to be adjudicated upon.

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