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The Diplomatic and Consular Staff Case (U.S. v. Iran)

International Court of Justice
1980 I.C.J. 3 (1980)


Facts

On November 4, 1979, the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Policy (militants) invaded the United States embassy in Tehran and took the American diplomatic and consular staff hostage. The militants damaged the embassy and destroyed embassy documents. The invasion lasted for hours, but despite repeated requests, Iranian military forces did not arrive until later. Once on scene, the Iranian military did not attempt to free the hostages. After the active invasion ended, the Iranian government claimed that the U.S. was responsible for the events, and announced that the hostages would remain until the U.S. returned the former Shah of Iran for trial. On November 29, 1979, the U.S. filed a claim against Iran in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1961 and 1963, and the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights of 1955. The Vienna Conventions required signatories to “take all appropriate steps” to protect diplomatic and consular staff in foreign embassies, as well as embassy facilities and archives. Iran declined to submit formal documents or otherwise participate in the proceedings, except for two letters in which it stated that the ICJ should not hear the case, because the hostage situation resulted from years of American interference with and oppression against Iran.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning

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Questions & Answers


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