ICJ Watch: Djibouti Sues France

by Julian Ku

Sure, Judge Alito is getting grilled by the Senate, but let’s turn to really important stuff. Like the news today that the Republic of Djibouti has filed an application with the International Court of Justice against France alleging France violated its treaty obligations to provide judicial assistance in a Djibouti criminal investigation.

This looks like a fairly tedious and unimportant case. The only interesting aspect (to me, anyway) is whether France refuses to accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction. France famously withdrew from the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ back in 1996 (those unilateralist Frenchies, so disrespectful of international courts!) and this case can only go forward with France’s consent. If France refuses to accept ICJ jurisdiction, even here in this fairly minor case, it will be a slap at the ICJ’s authority and credibility.

(By the way, I know many of our readers are savvy well-educated, well-travelled internationalists. But how many of you really know where Djibouti is? How many of you knew it is located in between Somalia and Eritrea and the location of the main U.S. military base in that region? C’mon, you can admit it if you didn’t know…I certainly didn’t. )


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