Analysis & Opinions - Lawfare

Certain Iranian Assets: The International Court of Justice Splits the Difference Between the United States and Iran

| Feb. 14, 2019

On Feb. 13, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its decision on the U.S. preliminary objections in Certain Iranian Assets (Iran v. United States). Iran brought this case against the United States in 2016, after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bank Markazi v. Peterson. In Peterson, the court sanctioned the turnover of about $1.75 billion in Central Bank of Iran assets to satisfy U.S. court judgments in favor of terrorism victims under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's terrorism exception. Iran also challenged other U.S. measures, including President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13599, which blocked all government of Iran assets within U.S. jurisdiction.

While the ICJ accepted jurisdiction over the case and allowed it to move forward—rejecting most U.S. preliminary objections—the United States won a key argument. The ICJ agreed with the U.S. that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear claims based on the international law of state immunity, thereby removing the weakest link in the U.S. legal position. The ruling significantly narrows the scope of the case and its implications for international law....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Chachko, Elena.“Certain Iranian Assets: The International Court of Justice Splits the Difference Between the United States and Iran.” Lawfare, February 14, 2019.