UN and International Law Students
Here is my quick summary of the situation regarding Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Request for advisory opinion) Summary of the Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004. It is within the legal right of the United Nations to make such a request to the ICJ and it is within the jurisdiction of the ICJ to answer the question. The ICJ is set-up to answer such questions. Now, here are my quick summary points to as a response to the discussions in class.
The question: “What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, as described in the report of the Secretary-General, considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions?”
1) This request for advisory opinion was indeed supported by written petitions submitted by 70-80 countries.
2) Yes, the UN is an International Organization (IO) that is legally authorized to make such entreaties before the ICJ. In other words, the UN enjoys the same legal status as a “STATE” under international law for the purposes of international transactions.
3) States, only states or other such IO’s that have the legal standing of a STATE can only appear in front of the ICJ.
4) NO, Taiwan is not a State, NO the PLO or the PA (Palestinian Authority is not a state), but Yes, both the PA and the Holy SEE (the Vatican) have special observer status within the UN.
5) The question of legality of the Wall was presented by a special committee of the UNGA to the ICJ to simply examine whether it is legal for the Israel to construct a permanent barrier through “occupied territories,” thereby solidifying or consolidating their legal claim over a disputed territory.
6) Also please note, that the portion is indeed disputed, which Israel got hold of during the 1967 Arab-Israeli Conflict. So, as the Court points out as per the provisions of International Law it is within the right of the Court to refer to it as “Occupied Territory” of the Palestine mandate, which prior to the Israeli takeover was nominally under the control of the Ottoman Empire and Trans-Jordan. However, the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict are highly self-evident in this posing of the question. Off course, it goes without saying that the Arab-Israeli conflict is one of the most contentious issues that the world has witnessed in after the end of the Second World War.
More on this topic as the semester progresses.