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BBC reported on June 12, 2023:

The Netherlands and Canada have submitted a case against Syria to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over allegations of torture.

I thought that [binding] cases at ICJ require mutual consent of the parties. So it seems that Syria can easily block that case at the start. Am I mistaken?

It looks like the ICJ took a similar case in 2022 Gambia v. Myanmar so I may be mistaken, but still I'm not sure if the defendant agreed there to the case and then argued for the case to be dismissed on other (4) grounds... which were rejected by the ICJ. One of these was quite an interesting technicality: Myanmar had entered a reservation on Article VIII of the Genocide Convention. But the ICJ ruled that that reservation, which was broadly worded, doesn't include the ICJ because...

The court admitted that the ordinary meaning of “competent organs of the United Nations” appears to include the court. Nevertheless, reading Article VIII as a whole could lead to a different interpretation. In particular, Article VIII provides that the competent organs of the United Nations may “take such action . . . as they consider appropriate,” which suggests that these organs exercise discretion in determining the actions for “the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III.” The function of the “competent organs” under Article VIII is to address the prevention and suppression of genocide at the political level, which is different from the function of the court.

So is that also possible in Syria's case because the parties have pre-agreed to ICJ's jurisdiction in some other treaty on human rights making case-by-case mutual consent unnecessary in such matters?

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So is that also possible in Syria's case because the parties have pre-agreed to ICJ's jurisdiction in some other treaty on human rights making case-by-case mutual consent unnecessary in such matters?

Yes, that's exactly the argument made in the joint application filed by Canada and the Netherlands. While Syria has not made a declaration that they recognise the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ (unlike Canada and the Netherlands), all three countries are States Parties to the Convention against Torture.

The first paragraph of Article 30 of the Convention against Torture provides:

Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention which cannot be settled through negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If within six months from thc date of the request for arbitration the Parties are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those Parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in conformity with the Statute of the Court.

The joint application goes on to note that Syria has not made any reservation under the remaining paragraphs of article 30, which allows State Parties to declare that they are not bound by paragraph 1. It argues further that the conditions stated in paragraph 1 are met, and the ICJ, therefore, has jurisdiction in this case pursuant to Article 36(1) of the Statute of the Court of Justice, without Syria having to agree to the case's referral.

The jurisdiction of the Court comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force.

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