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Questions of Interpretation and Application of the 1971 Montreal Convention arising from the Aerial Incident at Lockerbie (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya v. United States of America)

1992 I.C.J. 114 (1992)

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Questions of Interpretation and Application of the 1971 Montreal Convention arising from the Aerial Incident at Lockerbie (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya v. United States of America)

International Court of Justice

1992 I.C.J. 114 (1992)

Facts

In 1988, 259 individuals were killed due to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The suspected bombers were two Libyan nationals who had returned to Libya following the bombing. The United States (defendant) requested that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya) (plaintiff) extradite the bombers to the United States for a trial. Libya refused. In response, the United Nations Security Council ordered that Libya cooperate with foreign nations investigating the crime through Resolution 748 (1992) (the resolution). Following the Security Council’s issuance of the resolution, the United States again ordered the extradition. Libya then filed an application in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States on the ground that the United States’ request was contrary to the 1971 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation (the Montreal Convention). Under Article 8, paragraph 2 of the Montreal Convention, extradition decisions were governed by the requested state’s extradition laws. Libya’s domestic laws did not require it to extradite Libyan nationals to the United States. Libya requested the ICJ to indicate provisional measures to ensure Libya’s rights guaranteed by the Montreal Convention were preserved, such as suspending the resolution, pursuant to the ICJ’s authority under Article 41 of the Statute of the ICJ (the statute). The United States argued that the Security Council had issued the resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, which resulted in the resolution having the effect of a binding decision and therefore superseded any rights Libya had under the Montreal Convention. The ICJ considered the case.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning

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