It was on 9 July 2004 that the International Court of Justice in The Hague handed down its Advisory Opinion — issued after more than a year of deliberations following a request from the UN General Assembly [this request for opinion was limited to “the legal consequences of the construction of those parts of the wall situated in Occupied Palestinian Territory”].
Part of the argument it considers says, in summary form, that: “Construction of the wall and its associated regime create a ‘fait accompli” on the ground that could well become permanent -Risk of situation tantamount to de facto annexation – Construction of the wall severely impedes the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination and is therefore a breach of Israel’s obligation to respect that right“.
The ICJ concludes, in this Advisory Opinion, that: “Construction of the wall and its associated regime are contrary to international law”.
It also concludes that there is a “need for efforts to be encouraged, with a view to achieving as soon as possible, on the basis of international law, a negotiated solution to the outstanding problems and the establishment of a Palestinian State, with peace, and security, for all in the region”.
The ICJ concludes that the legal consequences of this construction are:
(1) – “Israel is obliged to comply with the international obligations it has breached by the construction of the wall — Israel obliged to put an end to the violation of its international obligations + to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall, to dismantle it forthwith + to repeal or render ineffective forthwith the legislative and regulatory acts relating to its construction, save where relevant for compliance by Israel with its obligation to make reparation for the damage caused – Israel obliged to make reparation for the damage caused to all natural or legal persons affected by construction of the wall”, and
(2) due to the erga omnes [above all else] character of certain obligations violated by Israel – all States are obligated not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from construction of the Wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; there is also an obligation for all States, while respecting the Charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wa11, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination is brought to an end; all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, while respecting the Charter and international law, are obliged to ensure compliance by lsrael with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention; and the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, need to consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and its associated regime, taking due account of the Advisory Opinion”.
All the documentation can be read on the ICJ website: main page is: http://www.icj-cij.org/.
Then, choose your preferred language (the original documentation is in two languages: English + French. Never mind that the two are jumbled up. Just keep going, scrolling down and reading whichever of these two languages you understand better).
On the left hand side of the page that will open after you select a language, choose: Cases.
Then, in the text on the page that will open, click on the link to: Advisory Opinions.
Go to the correct year — in this case, it is 2003, the date of the filing (rather than the date of the decision)…
Then, on the page that will open, choose the grey link that says Advisory Opinions
. The main one is listed first: Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004. Click on it to open the PDF file [its web address is http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf].
The Question [formulated by the UN General Assembly] to which the ICJ was responding, in its Advisory Opinion, was this: “What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, as described in the report of thie Secretary-General, considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions?”