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 18 April 2007

The Republic of Rwanda applies to the International Court of Justice
in a dispute with France

          THE HAGUE, 18 April 2007. The Republic of Rwanda today applied to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a dispute with France concerning international arrest warrants issued by the latter's judicial authorities against three Rwandan officials on 20 November 2006 and a request sent to the United Nations Secretary-General that President Paul Kagame of Rwanda should stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

          In its Application, Rwanda states that the subject of the dispute concerns an alleged “report issued by [a French judge]” on the downing, on 6 April 1994, of an aircraft carrying inter alia the late Heads of State of Rwanda and Burundi, Messrs. Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira. Rwanda contends that the report led to the issuance and circulation of various arrest warrants, notably against the Chief of General Staff of its Defence Forces, the Chief of Protocol attached to the Presidency and the Ambassador of Rwanda to India. It also asserts that the report was transmitted to the United Nations Secretary-General with a request that President Kagame of Rwanda should stand trial at the ICTR. Rwanda asks the Court to declare that, by issuing the above-mentioned three arrest warrants, France “has violated, and is continuing to violate, international law with regard to international immunities generally and with regard to diplomatic immunities particularly”, as well as “the sovereignty” of Rwanda, and that it is “under an obligation to annul such international arrest warrants forthwith”. With respect to the request that President Kagame should stand trial at the ICTR, Rwanda asks the Court to find that France “has acted in breach of the obligation of each and every State to refrain from intervention in the affairs of other States” and “is under a duty to respect the sovereignty” of Rwanda.

          Rwanda seeks to found the jurisdiction of the Court on Article 38, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court and expresses its “full confidence that France . . . will accept the jurisdiction of the Court” to settle the dispute. Under that Article:

          “When the applicant State proposes to found the jurisdiction of the Court upon a consent thereto yet to be given or manifested by the State against which such application is made, the application shall be transmitted to that State. It shall not however be entered in the General List, nor any action be taken in the proceedings, unless and until the State against which such application is made consents to the Court's jurisdiction for the purposes of the case.”

          In accordance with Article 38, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court, the Application by the Republic of Rwanda, to which was appended a request for the indication of provisional measures, has been transmitted to the French Government. However, no action will be taken in the proceedings unless and until France consents to the Court's jurisdiction in the case.