On the occasion of the Chagos Advisory Opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this week, we have heard several pronouncements, official and unofficial, on the value of the ICJ and the significance of its Advisory Opinions on this and other situations.
Perhaps this is time to remind that an obvious case where an authoritative statement by the ICJ through an Advisory Opinion clarifying the legal position on a key aspect of the Cyprus problem, viz the correct interpretation of Article 4 of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee (first raised by U Thant in early 1964 in the context of Security Council Resolution 186) would have been highly advisable. There exist good arguments why the Court would interpret Article 4 as not giving to the Guarantor Powers the right of forcible intervention (as Turkey has done and continues to insist that it has the right to do under the 1960 Treaty).
Yet Cyprus (which has participated with a 13-member delegation at the recent ICJ Chagos hearing in the Hague) has never tried this route which would, in all probability, would settle authoritatively this major element of the Cyprus problem. Several references to this issue can be found in my book “International Law and Diplomacy”.
Andreas Jacovides, Former Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States