Case Concerning Questions of Interpretation and Application of the 1971 Montreal Convention Arising from the Aerial Incident at Lockerbie
(Libya v. United States)
1992 I.C.J. Rep. 114 (April 14)
An airplane blew
up over Scotland, killing a lot of Americans.
The US and UK
traced the bomb back to two Libyans, but the Libyan government refused to
extradite the pair for trial.
that under the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against
Civil Aviation (aka the Montreal
Convention) (974 U.N.T.S.
177 (1971)), they could either
extradite or prosecute the suspect themselves.
the latter option.
The US and UK
accused the Libyans of forum shopping and took it to the United Nations
Security Council (UNSC).
The UNSC issued
two resolutions (UNSC Resolutions731 and 748) urging Libya to hand over the suspects.
The UNSC also
embargoed arms sales to Libya, and told member States to close Libyan
powers are detailed in Chapter VII
of the United Nations Charter.
How did the
UNSC justify the resolutions?
Article 39 allows the UNSC to take enforcement actions
to restore international peace. You could argue that international terrorism
is a breach of the peace.
could you say that Libya's exercising their rights under a multilateral
treaty is a threat to the peace?
Libya went to
the International Court of Justice to protest the UNSC resolutions.
that it was fully within its rights under the Montreal Convention to try
the suspects in Libya.
The ICJ found
that the UNSC resolutions were permissible, and the Libya must hand over
ICJ found that UNSC resolutions trumped everything else, even
Article 103 of the United Nations Charter says, "In the event of a conflict
between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the
present Charter and their obligations under any other international
agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall
Article 25 says that member States must follow UNSC
The basic point
of this decision is that the ICJ does not perform Judicial Review of UNSC decisions. They are binding and
decisions were reviewable, it would not give the sense of finality that
is required for them to be acted upon.
this imply that the UNSC can run roughshod over 'unpopular' countries?