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ICJ on Qatar Blockade

  • 20 Jul 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) refused an appeal by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which challenged the authority of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to adjudicate on the legality of the Qatar blockade.

Key Points

  • Qatar Blockade:
    • In June 2017, Qatar’s neighbouring Arab nations of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt shut off shipping routes and air space with Qatar for its alleged support for terrorism and its ties with Iran.
      • It severed their diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar.
    • However, Qatar denied supporting Islamic extremism and has openly condemned its isolation as a clear attack on its sovereignty.
    • All four neighbours issued a 13-point list of demands for Doha (capital of Qatar) to comply with in order to restore erstwhile relations.
      • Some of the demands included Qatar closing down news outlets such as Al-Jazeera, end ties with radical Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, scale down ties with Shia-majority Iran and remove Turkish troops stationed in the country.
    • Since 2017, the blockade of Qatar has included:
      • Closing of its only land border with Saudi Arabia.
      • Stopping Qatari ships from entering ports anywhere in the Saudi coalition.
      • Blocking Qatari planes from flying in their airspace.
      • Expelling Qatari citizens from these countries as part of the measures.
  • Dispute at the ICJ:
    • Qatar approached the ICAO, alleging that its rights of free passage under the 1944 Convention on Civil Aviation were violated by the blockade.
    • Saudi Arabia and its allies argued that the ICJ should have the authority to settle the dispute instead of the ICAO because the dispute goes beyond the aviation matters.
    • In 2018, the ICAO ruled against the Saudi coalition, holding that it did have jurisdiction to hear the case and its ruling was recently backed by the ICJ too.
    • The blockade still remains in force and the ICAO is expected to deliver its verdict in 2021. The ruling will be in Qatar’s favour and will be a major win for the country and its national carrier, Qatar Airways.

International Civil Aviation Organisation

  • It was established by the Convention on International Civil Aviation which was signed on 7th December 1944 in Chicago.
  • It laid the foundation for the standards and procedures for peaceful global air navigation and established the core principles permitting international transport by air.
  • Objective: To foster the planning and development of international air transport so as to ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation throughout the world.
  • India is among its 193 members.
  • Headquarters: Montreal, Canada.

Source: IE

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