Can Iran Sue Russia in the ICJ?

by Julian Ku

Since neither state has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ, I am curious how this report could possible be accurate:

A senior Iranian diplomat said that Tehran has filed a lawsuit against Russia after the latter backed out of delivering anti-aircraft S-300 missile system to the Islamic Republic, Tehran’s Fars news agency reported on Tuesday.

Iran‘s Ambassador to Russia Seyed Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said that Tehran has filed a lawsuit against Russia with the International Court of Justice over Moscow’s refusal to ship S-300 air defense systems to Tehran.

Translation problems or confusion? An inaccurate report?  Anyone out there have the answer?

10 Responses

  1. The report says the State parties had signed a sales contract for the provision of the S-300s. It could be that the contract contained a clause stipulating that the ICJ had jurisdiction in case of dispute.

  2. …or to the Permanent Court of Arbistration, which is in the same building as the ICJ.

  3. It seems exceedingly unlikely to be true, given the difficulty of completing this sentence:
    Iran today moved to gain satisfaction under its favourable ICJ ruling by…


  4. First point: Russia claims that she is unable to fulfill the corresponding contract in connection with the U.N. Security Council’s resolution 1929 and Russian President’s decree 1154 of September 22, 2010
    on the contrary Iranian officials argue that the UN Security Council resolution does not ban defensive equipment sales, but only offensive weapon sales
    It seems that the  purpose of Iranian official is the referral  of  the case to an arbitration court rather than ICJ.
    Second point: This agreement is not a treaty but a sales contract and I am doubtful whether this dispute is a question of public international law.

  5. PCA – obviously.  These kinds of cases can happen in arbitration frequently enough.  The arbitration is a way of signaling that there is a significant hassle here and get the parties talking again about some solution.

  6. Iranian ambassador in Moscow: Iran instituted claim before the ICC! [BBC Persian] May be he meant International Commercial Chamber!

  7. Farsi sources first emphasized on the ICJ but they are now mostly talking of referring the case to “relevant legal institutions in The Hague”. 

    i must add that it is very common for Iranian politicians and journalists to generally speak of “The Hague court” instead of specifying exactly which court (ICC, PCA, etc.) they are referring to.

  8. It almost certainly is a commercial arbitration dispute filed pursuant to an arbitration clause in the government contract agreeing to arbitrate disputes before the ICC (the International Chamber of Commerce) in Paris.  Details here.

  9. Agreed with Roger.  One thing is that the ICC International Court of Arbitration is not a court that decides international commercial disputes.  Rather it supervises arbitrations done under its rules.  Thus, an arbitral tribunal chosen by the parties with a Chair chosen by the coarbitrators or failing that by the ICC International Court of Arbitration (pursuant to its rules and the arbitration clause) will hear the case.  The parties may have selected “the Hague” as the place of arbitration in their arbitration clause so even if the request for arbitration has been filed in Paris, the actual arbitration and the nationality of the award would be considered a Netherlands award for purposes of enforcement.  That is, unless in the place where enforcement is sought the award is somehow characterized as a domestic award.  Curious to see whether an applicable law was chosen of Russian or Iranian and wondering whether an award rendered abroad with such a choice of law would be considered a domestic award by either country.

  10. The press secretary of the Russian foreign ministry said the Iranians sent a claim to the International Court of Arbitration (Международный арбитражный суд) and expressed surprise that a country with traditionally friendly relations didn’t come to them to seek a mutually agreeable solution.

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