Case Name – Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations
Court Name – International Court of Justice
Citation – 1949 I.C.J. 174
Fact of Reparation Case
In September 1948 Count Folke Bernadotte and other members of the United Nations Mission to Palestine were allegedly assassinated by the then Israeli Government in Jerusalem. Mr. Bernadotte was an agent of the United Nations and the United Nations Mediator in Palestine. He along with other members of the United Nations were assassinated during the performance of their duties for the organisation. Later the UN General Assembly’s question concerning reparation for injuries suffered in the service of the United Nations was referred to the ICJ. (Resolution of the General Assembly dated December 3rd 1948)
Issues of Reparation Case
- Whether the United Nations had the capacity to bring an international claim against the State responsible with a view to obtaining reparation for damage caused to the Organisation and to the victim?
- In what manner the action taken by the United Nations could be reconciled with such rights as might be possessed by the State of which the victim was a national?
Reasoning Behind Decision of Reparation Case
- The United Nations as an organisation has been given ‘international personality’ due to the fact that without legal personhood it cannot fulfil its main purposes and aims, which are conferred upon it by the UN Charter.
- The Organisation has the capacity to present a claim in the circumstances referred to, on the basis of the breach by the defendant State of an obligation towards the Organisation itself.
- Moreover, the Organisation possesses rights and obligations imposed upon it by the UN Charter. These rights and duties are different from those of its member states. Although the right is not expressly stated in the UN Charter, the UN has been given the right to claim reparation for injuries suffered in the services because it is essential to the discharge of its functions.
Analysis of Reparation Case
According to Article 1 of the UN Charter, the UN has the following aims to fulfil –
- To maintain international peace and security;
- To encourage international cooperation in the spheres of social, economic and cultural development;
- To develop friendly relations amongst nations on the principle of equal rights and self determination;
- To recognize the fundamental rights of all people.
In order to discharge its duties and fulfil its aims the Organisation may be required to entrust its agents with important missions in troubled parts of the world. In such cases, it is significant that the agents should receive proper support and protection. To do so the organisation should have the right to bring a claim before the court. The claim brought by the UN is not founded on the nationality of the victim but rather upon his status as an agent of the Organisation, it does not matter whether or not the State to which the claim is addressed regards him as its own national.
The ICJ in its Advisory Opinion of 11th April 1949 held that, “the Organisation (UN) possessing rights and obligations, has at the same time a large measure of international personality and the capacity to operate upon an international plane, although it is certainly not a super-state.” The Organisation has the capacity to bring an international claim whether or not the responsible State is a Member of the United Nations. The Court further held that the Organisation can claim reparation not only in respect of damage caused to itself, but also in respect of damage suffered by the victim or persons entitled through him. A conflict between the action of the United Nations and the agent’s national State may be reconciled depending on the considerations applicable to each particular case, and upon agreements to be made between the Organisation and individual States.
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