Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations
Overview of the case
As a consequence of the assassination in September 1948, in Jerusalem, of Count Folke Bernadotte, the United Nations Mediator in Palestine, and other members of the United Nations Mission to Palestine, the General Assembly asked the Court 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 Organization and to the victim. If this question were answered in the affirmative, it was further asked 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. In its Advisory Opinion of 11 April 1949, the Court held that the Organization was intended to exercise functions and rights which could only be explained on the basis of the possession of a large measure of international personality and the capacity to operate upon the international plane. It followed that the Organization had the capacity to bring a claim and to give it the character of an international action for reparation for the damage that had been caused to it. The Court further declared that the Organization 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. Although, according to the traditional rule, diplomatic protection had to be exercised by the national State, the Organization should be regarded in international law as possessing the powers which, even if they are not expressly stated in the Charter, are conferred upon the Organization as being essential to the discharge of its functions. The Organization may require to entrust its agents with important missions in disturbed parts of the world. In such cases, it is necessary that the agents should receive suitable support and protection. The Court therefore found that the Organization has the capacity to claim appropriate reparation, including also reparation for damage suffered by the victim or by persons entitled through him. The risk of possible competition between the Organization and the victim’s national State could be eliminated either by means of a general convention or by a particular agreement in any individual case.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.