Ecuador Has Got to Be Bluffing About its ICJ Case For Assange

by Julian Ku

I hope this statement by Assange’s legal team is just seeking leverage for negotiations, because I think their claim would be blown out of the water by the ICJ. It would be an international embarrassment for Ecuador. Actually, it would be a further international embarrassment for Ecuador, which is already beginning to seem a little ridiculous in its involvement in this case.

JULIAN Assange’s legal team will likely apply to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to get the activist out of London to diplomatic asylum in Ecuador.
Former judge at Spain’s top criminal court, and head of Mr Assange’s legal team, Baltasar Garzon, says they are exploring a number of ways to guarantee his safety.

The ICJ is the world’s top arbitration body for disputes between states.

Speaking through an interpreter on the sidelines of the International Council of Archives Congress in Brisbane, Mr Garzon said the United Kingdom is bound by international law to offer his client safe passage to asylum.

The UK could be ordered into negotiations with Ecuador if the ICJ finds in favour of an application.

The lawyer said they would request many provisional measures be taken by the UK, on humanitarian grounds, to guarantee Mr Assange’s safety.

Doesn’t Ecuador’s government have anything better to do than waste its resources on this matter? Well, maybe it is for the best. Otherwise, they might find more local journalists to harass.

7 Responses

  1. Bear in mind that it is Julian Assange’s legal team -i.e. not the Ecuadorian Office of the Legal Advisor for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs- who has “decided” that Ecuador will file a claim against the UK before the ICJ.

    I have not heard anything by any Ecuadorean official regarding a possible ICJ claim. I think this is just nonesense from Garzon rather than an actual Ecuadorean decision.

  2. It is astounding how over the years, OJ has deteriorated from a blog that provides interesting information and analysis about international legal issues, to a platform for promoting the personal political views of its contributors. What conceivable purpose, for instance, does this statement serve, apart from a needless and petty sidelong swipe? 

    “Actually, it would be a further international embarrassment for Ecuador, which is already beginning to seem a little ridiculous in its involvement in this case.” 

  3. I agree with Guatam. These posts haven’t advanced any understanding of the complexities (and failings) of our legal system to deal with the profound changes occuring with our current technologies – which Wikileaks is symptomatic of, rather than the cause of. Same goes for Mr Assange. He could have been anybody. Retreating into the sort of legal fundamentalism of Ku’s posts isn’t what I thought Opinio Juris was about either. His posts on this subject are a sort of textbook promotion for the failing of our international legal system, in particular, to grasp the this environment.

  4. Quite regardless of what one may think of Julian Ku’s views, the Assange legal team’s statement, as well as the press report, betray yet again the fundamental failure of private lawyers and the Press to understand the nature of dispute resolution in public international law.  (i) It would not be for the Assange legal team to apply to the ICJ. This is a matter for the government of Ecuador.  (ii) And even if the latter were minded to take the matter to the ICJ, it could not force the UK into proceedings.  (iii) And finally, to describe the ICJ as “the world’s top arbitration body” compounds the ignorance.

    If private lawyers are failing to grasp the new legal environment, clearly there is a need for a new approach to education in public international law.  It is still regarded in some quarters as an arcane academic subject, whereas it is increasingly having a practical significance to the work of lawyers.  I suggest that vocational education and training be introduced on a worldwide scale to equip lawyers with the basic knowledge and skills for the new environment.  This has been the case in the European Union for many years with regard to EU (and the former European Community) law, so nobody should say that it can’t be done. 

  5. I don’t have an English link, but this statement pretty much proves that Ecuador has no intention of going to the ICJ. Correa has asked for either Swedish assurances that it will not extradite Assange to a third State or for a British safe-conduct for Assange. No mention of the ICJ whatsoever. He has specifically asked for a consensual solution to the problem.  

  6. Assange’s lawyers are likely just exerting pressure, whether their case goes anywhere or not.
    Nobody surely could blame Assange for fearing extradition to the US.  That Swedish case definitely looked like a set up.
    The US hasn’t made a move yet, but in what black legal hole is Pvt. Manning?  The US is probably still trying to squeeze info out of him with which to go after Assange.

  7. We all could safely presume that political people are trying to play a legal game in this Assange affair.

    But why don’t we take this game back to where it was originated? Diplomatic practices should be employed to solve the problems.

    Why doesn’t the UK government start the blame game with the Ecuadorian diplomatic staff in London? They were supposed to promote the bilateral relation between Britain and Ecuador and send back home a clear message of negative impacts to such relation if the grant would be approved. The UK government should be able to identify the diplomat who failed the job, be it either the ambassador or a senior person at the embassy. Then, the UK government could declare such person persona non grata and he would go home. Certainly, this action will offer tit for tat and one of   UK embassy staff in Quito will have to pack up and leave also as a collateral damage. But in the end, this could be a strong signal that keeps everything within the diplomatic field and proves the UK’s readiness to act.

    It’s both irrational for Britain to storm the embassy and Ecuador to fuel the fire. Talking of domestic laws in the diplomatic world will lead to abuses. I am sure that no British or Ecuadorian diplomat perceives any interest in prolonging this tension.

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