What are the likely results of a World Court filing from Vietnam against the U.S.?

Voice of America reports:

Vietnam’s latest demand, emboldened by the U.S. jury’s decision, follows the 2005 loss of a class action lawsuit brought by Vietnamese citizens to a federal judge in New York.

The government also hopes to avoid a world court filing, which would be state-to-state rather than aimed at a company and could hurt otherwise stable political relations with the United States, said Trung Nguyen, director of the Center for International Studies at Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

The expert seems to suggest that Vietnam would likely seek a World Court filing if it doesn't win any compensation in U.S. courts, but what would it achieve if the U.S. withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction from international courts?

Since the United States withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court, what would a World Court filing against the U.S. likely achieve?

  • DV because I didn't see such suggestion in the piece. The US gov't already paid Vietnam some compensation for AO, which is noted in the piece. That lawsuit was to force some US private companies to do the same. Private companies can't be sued in the "World Court", if by that you mean the ICJ. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 23:00
  • And the compulsory jurisdiction the latter piece talks about was limited to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which almost certainly didn't cover war reparations or chemical agents cleanup. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 23:05
  • "China has not accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ in any of its treaties." So I suspect the US under Trump was just trying to match that. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


Other than some prestigue and moral victory, not much. There is no such thing as "you must do this, or else" from any international court verdict. And considering that the US (and many other countries) are ready to give the "international law" the middle finger to protect their right and interest, why would you think that they would agree for compensation?

According to anti-Vietnam sources (yes, that is a thing), Vietnam "loses" the case because "we think Agent Orange is an liquid with orange color". Now, I have not actually verify this rumor, but if this is true, then one can be sure that the US would do their best do deny their involvement and complicity in the business of Agent Orange.

According to Wikipedia US court rule has stated that because Agent Orange was not originally and deliberately used as "chemical weapon", but as "herbicide". Therefore, the US government (and their contractors) was not at fault (and those were not allowed to be persecuted in the first place)

Assume the world court accepts the case, assume the US even cares about this case to be presence, and assume the verdict is beneficial to Vietnam (as in "yeah, that Agent Orange can be considered as a chemical weapon of sort, the US MUST pay the reparation fee"), I expect the US to just laugh and wave it away. And that is a good case scenario.

The best case scenario is that the court "calling for the US to support in decontamination process" (as in status quo, even if there would be more money flowing in to clear out the AO and take care of the victims)


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