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Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America)

Overview of the case

On 9 April 1984 Nicaragua filed an Application instituting proceedings against the United States of America, together with a request for the indication of provisional measures concerning a dispute relating to responsibility for military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua. On 10 May 1984 the Court made an Order indicating provisional measures. One of these measures required the United States immediately to cease and refrain from any action restricting access to Nicaraguan ports, and, in particular, the laying of mines. The Court also indicated that the right to sovereignty and to political independence possessed by Nicaragua, like any other State, should be fully respected and should not be jeopardized by activities contrary to the principle prohibiting the threat or use of force and to the principle of non-intervention in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of a State. The Court also decided in the aforementioned Order that the proceedings would first be addressed to the questions of the jurisdiction of the Court and of the admissibility of the Nicaraguan Application. Just before the closure of the written proceedings in this phase, El Salvador filed a declaration of intervention in the case under Article 63 of the Statute, requesting permission to claim that the Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Nicaragua’s Application. In its Order dated 4 October 1984, the Court decided that El Salvador’s declaration of intervention was inadmissible inasmuch as it related to the jurisdictional phase of the proceedings.

After hearing argument from both Parties in the course of public hearings held from 8 to 18 October 1984, on 26 November 1984 the Court delivered a Judgment stating that it possessed jurisdiction to deal with the case and that Nicaragua’s Application was admissible. In particular, it held that the Nicaraguan declaration of 1929 was valid and that Nicaragua was therefore entitled to invoke the United States declaration of 1946 as a basis of the Court’s jurisdiction (Article 36, paragraphs 2 and 5, of the Statute). The subsequent proceedings took place in the absence of the United States, which announced on 18 January 1985 that it “intends not to participate in any further proceedings in connection with this case”. From 12 to 20 September 1985, the Court heard oral argument by Nicaragua and the testimony of the five witnesses it had called. On 27 June 1986, the Court delivered its Judgment on the merits. The findings included a rejection of the justification of collective self-defence advanced by the United States concerning the military or paramilitary activities in or against Nicaragua, and a statement that the United States had violated the obligations imposed by customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State, not to use force against another State, not to infringe the sovereignty of another State, and not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce. The Court also found that the United States had violated certain obligations arising from a bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation of 1956, and that it had committed acts such to deprive that treaty of its object and purpose.

It decided that the United States was under a duty immediately to cease and to refrain from all acts constituting breaches of its legal obligations, and that it must make reparation for all injury caused to Nicaragua by the breaches of obligations under customary international law and the 1956 Treaty, the amount of that reparation to be fixed in subsequent proceedings if the Parties were unable to reach agreement. The Court subsequently fixed, by an Order, time-limits for the filing of written pleadings by the Parties on the matter of the form and amount of reparation, and the Memorial of Nicaragua was filed on 29 March 1988, while the United States maintained its refusal to take part in the case. In September 1991, Nicaragua informed the Court, inter alia, that it did not wish to continue the proceedings. The United States told the Court that it welcomed the discontinuance and, by an Order of the President dated 26 September 1991, the case was removed from the Court’s List.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Written proceedings

Memorial of Nicaragua

30 June 1984
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
English

Counter-Memorial of the United States of America

17 August 1984
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
English

Memorial of Nicaragua

30 April 1985
Available in:
English

Memorial of Nicaragua

29 March 1988
Available in:
English

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 1984

Oral Arguments on the Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures - Minutes of the Public Sittings held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, on 25 and 27 April and 10 May 1984, President Elias presiding
Procedure(s): Provisional measures
Available in:
Original Language

Verbatim record 1984

Oral Arguments on Jurisdiction and Admissibility - Minutes of the Public Sittings held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, from 8 to 18 October and 26 November 1984, President Elias presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language

Verbatim record 1985/17

Oral Arguments on the Merits - Minutes of the Public Sittings held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, from 12 to 20 September 1985 and on 27 June 1986, President Nagendra Singh presiding
Available in:
Original Language

Other documents

Orders

Order of 14 May 1984

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial (Jurisdiction and Admissibility)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 22 January 1985

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial (Merits)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 18 November 1987

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial (Reparation)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 26 September 1991

Removal from list
Procedure(s): Discontinuance
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 1984/2

Summary of the Order of 10 May 1984
Available in:
English French

Summary 1984/3

Summary of the Order of 4 October 1984
Available in:
English French

Summary 1984/5

Summary of the Judgment of 26 November 1984
Available in:
English French

Summary 1986/2

Summary of the Judgment of 27 June 1986
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 1984/10

9 April 1984
Nicaragua Institutes Proceedings against the United States of America
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/12

13 April 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Appointment of Agents by Nicaragua and the United States of America
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/13

16 April 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - The President of the Court appeals to both Parties
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/14

18 April 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Public hearing to be held on Wednesday 25 April 1984 at 10 a.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/16

28 April 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Request for the indication of provisional measures - Conclusion of the public hearings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/17

7 May 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Request for the indication of interim measures of protection - Court to give its decision on Thursday 10 May 1984 at 12 noon
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/18

10 May 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - The International Court of Justice indicates provisional measures
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/20

15 May 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Jurisdiction of the Court - Fixing of time-limits for the filing of written pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/23

2 July 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Jurisdiction and Admissibility - Filing of the Counter-Memorial of the United States of America
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/25

16 August 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - El Salvador requests permission to intervene
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/26

17 August 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - The United States has filed its Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/28

27 September 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Hearing to open on 8 October 1984
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/30

5 October 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Declaration of Intervention of El Salvador
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/32

8 October 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Opening of the public hearings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/33

10 October 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Hearing in Progress
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/36

18 October 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Closure of hearing
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/38

19 November 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Judgment to be delivered on Monday, 26 November at 10 a.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 1984/39

26 November 1984
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Judgment of the Court
Available in:
English French

Press release 1985/1

23 January 1985
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Proceedings on the merits
Available in:
English French

Press release 1985/14

26 June 1985
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Hearing to open on the merits
Available in:
English French

Press release 1985/16

10 September 1985
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Hearing to open on the merits
Available in:
English French

Press release 1985/17

18 September 1985
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Progress of Public Hearings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1985/18

23 September 1985
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Progress and conclusion of public hearings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1986/7

13 June 1986
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Judgment on the merits to be delivered on Friday, 27 June at 9.30 a.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 1986/8

27 June 1986
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Judgment of the Court
Available in:
English French

Press release 1987/32

20 November 1987
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Reparation - Fixing of the time-limits for the filing of written pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1988/7

30 March 1988
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Filing of the Memorial of Nicaragua
Available in:
English French

Press release 1988/17

1 August 1988
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Filing of a Counter-Memorial by the United States of America
Available in:
English French

Press release 1990/12

29 June 1990
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Postponement of oral proceedings on compensation
Available in:
English French

Press release 1991/28

27 September 1991
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) - Removal of the case of the Court's list
Available in:
English French

Correspondence

Correspondence

9 April 1984
Correspondence
Available in:
English French