As you may already know, today the International Court of Justice ordered the United States to lift new Iran sanctions. The news headline says:

The UN’s international court of justice has reprimanded the US over its re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, ordering Washington to lift restrictive measures linked to humanitarian trade, food, medicine and civil aviation.

And in response,

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, reacted by announcing the US was terminating the treaty.

I wasn't able to find any detailed explanation about 1955 Treaty of Amity. Wikipedia does not have any information about it, and it is not even on the compiled list of treaties (which looks odd).

But I read on some other news that there is an Article in the Treaty which says that each party's withdrawal has to be notified one year in advance, which means today's withdrawal does not nullify the ICJ's vote.

Regarding the other questions such as this one which led to the conclusion that withdrawal from a treaty that was approved by the Congress has to be approved by the Congress itself, I have two questions in mind:

  1. Was this treaty approved by the Congress or the Senate? And in that case, does it mean treaty's termination also requires the Congress/Senate approval?

  2. Does the US withdrawal nullify the ICJ's vote?


1 Answer 1


1. Was this treaty approved by the Congress or the Senate? And in that case, does it mean treaty's termination also requires the Congress/Senate approval?

Within the treaty it states:

  • Ratification advised by the Senate of the United States of America July 11, 1956;
  • Ratified by the President of the United States of America September 14, 1956;

Clarification: https://www.senate.gov/general/Features/Treaties_display_2014.htm

The Constitution gives to the Senate the sole power to approve, by a two-thirds vote, treaties negotiated by the executive branch. The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification.

The Senate does not ratify treaties, rather it formally advises or consents to the President proceeding with ratifying the treaty.

The President may terminate a treaty upon presidential authority as it stands, but the actual constitutionality was left open: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldwater_v._Carter

Article II, Section II of the Constitution merely states that the President cannot make treaties without a Senate majority two-thirds vote. As it stands now, there is no official ruling on whether the President has the power to break a treaty without the approval of Congress.

2. Does the US withdrawal nullify the ICJ's vote?

Essentially the decision stands whether the US withdrew from the treaty or not.

So it wouldn't have nullified the ICJ vote, no.

The terms of ending the treaty, as you mentioned earlier:

Article XXIII[...]3. Either High Contracting Party may, by giving one year's written notice to the other High Contracting Party, terminate the present Treaty at the end of the initial ten-year period or at any time thereafter.

  • Have updated my answer. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 19:35
  • The decision only stands in the treaty withdrawal period (1 year?). After that the US can/could impose the sanctions again and the ICJ has no jurisdiction anymore. BTW, this was standard practice of the US to exit any treaty after losing an ICJ fight over its interpretation. They partly exited the ICJ treaty itself (art 36(2) after losing Nicaragua), exited some Vienna consular treaty over the death penalty cases to foreigners etc. lawfareblog.com/walking-away-world-court Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 20:47

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