JC History Tuition Notes Bukit Timah Bishan Bedok Singapore - Why did the Iran Hostage Crisis take place - United Nations ICJ

Why did the Iran Hostage Crisis happen?

On 29 Nov 1979, the US submitted a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) due to the sudden hostage incident in Iran, which affected its embassy personnel. The US held the premise that the Iran hostage incident was a clear violation of international law. Eventually, the ICJ’s ruling was only accepted by Iran after a series of unilateral enforcement actions undertaken by the US. It was a controversial incident that lasted for 444 days that was eventually resolved, but gave rise to other problems, such as the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War (Sep 1980 – Aug 1988) as well as the deterioration of bilateral relations between the US and Iran.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security – International Court of Justice: ensuring adherence to international law; arbitration and advisory opinion

In the next section, we will find out what happened during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the role of ICJ in resolving this tense conflict. This case study is essential in helping students to understand the supporting role of USA in ensuring the adherence to the international law.

1. [Iran] The hostage incident
On 4 Nov 1979, a group of radical Iranian college students took over the US Embassy complex in Tehran and held its occupants hostage. These students were part of the “Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line”, which supported the Iranian Revolution.

Generally, the Iranian Revolution began with the mass public demonstrations against the last Shah of Iran – Mohammaed Reza Pahlavi. Under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Revolution overthrew the American-backed monarchy. The ‘hostage incident’ was part of Iran’s protest against US and to demand the return of the deposed Shah Pahlavi.

2. [ICJ] The United Nations’ response
In response, the US submitted the case to the ICJ. On 24 May 1980, ICJ concluded that Iran had violated international law. Then, the ICJ requested the Iranian Government to ensure the immediate release of the hostages and make reparations to the US. However, Iran ignored the Court’s ruling, reflecting the absence of enforcement.

3. [USA] American response: Escape, sanctions and negotiations
Although the ICJ failed to make progress, the US attempted to resolve the crisis through other means. One such method was a joint covert rescue that was carried out by the Canadian government and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 6 American diplomats who evaded capture on 4 Nov were successful in leaving Iran by air flight.

The second approach was more aggressive in nature as the US imposed economic sanctions on Iran, freezing $12 billion of assets and banning Iranian oil imports.

The third approach involved negotiations between the two governments from 1980 to 1981.

4. Outcome: Conflict resolution
In short, the Algiers Declaration (or ‘Algiers Accords’) was signed between US and Iran on 19 Jan 1981, in which involved the unfreezing of $7.9 million Iranian assets in exchange for the immediate release of the hostages. To facilitate the release based on the mutually-agreed terms, the Algiers Declaration formed the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.

The Iran Hostage Crisis ended on 20 Jan 1981, signalling a significant decline in the diplomatic relations between Iran and US. Several months back, in Sep 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, marking the start of the Iran-Iraq War.

What can we learn from this case study?
Use the following questions to assess your understanding of this case:
– Did the ICJ play a critical role in the management of this conflict?
– How far do you agree that the lack of enforcement was the primary reason for the limited effectiveness of the ICJ in ensuring adherence to the international law?

Now that you have examined this ICJ case study, you can apply your knowledge to answer UN-related essay questions in preparation for the GCE A Level History examinations. Also, you can consider joining the Economics Tuition and GP Tuition, which are useful in building up your thinking and writing techniques. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition.

JC History Tuition Notes Bukit Timah Bishan Bedok Singapore - What happened in the Nicaragua case - United Nations ICJ 2

What happened in the Nicaragua case?

On 9 April 1984, the Nicaraguan government submit a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with regards to the alleged illegal military and paramilitary activities conducted by the United States of America (USA). The premise was that USA had supported the Contra rebels and sought to destabilize the Sandinista government, which was interpreted as a violation of international law. The case was controversial as it involved a superpower that held considerable political influence. In summary, while the ICJ had ruled in favour of Nicaragua, USA ignored the Court’s ruling and refused to pay compensation, reflecting the limited effectiveness of the judicial organ of the UN.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security – International Court of Justice: ensuring adherence to international law; arbitration and advisory opinion

In the following section, we will focus on the background of the case and how the ICJ performed its arbitration role to resolve the dispute. This case study is useful for students in comprehending the political effectiveness of the Court in maintaining adherence to the international law.

1. [USA] External involvement in Nicaragua
In fact, USA had military involvement in Nicaragua since 1909. Under the leadership of US President William Taft, USA sought to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. Fast forward to the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was in support a rebel group, known as the Contras. At that time, the Contras shared the common aim of toppling the Sandinista government.

Therefore, USA provided both financial and military assistance to the Contras. As such, Nicaragua was attacked, as seen by the incursions at the ports, oil installations and a naval base.

2. [Nicaragua] Threats to national security
Facing significant threats to its national security, the Nicaraguan government lodged a formal complaint to the ICJ due to the perceived breach of its sovereign rights. Through the ICJ, Nicaragua hoped that the USA would pay reparations for the damages.

However, USA refused to accept ICJ’s jurisdiction and chose not to participate in the proceedings. It claimed that the military actions undertaken in Nicaragua were to defend its allies, such as El Salvador, due to the alleged aggression inflicted upon by Nicaragua.

3. [ICJ] Outcome: The Court’s response
On 27 June 1986, the Court concluded that USA had violated the customary international law as it supported rebel forces that sought to destabilize the Nicaraguan government. As such, ICJ stated that USA was obligated to compensate Nicaragua for the breaches of international law that led to significant damages.

Yet, on 28 October 1986, USA invoked the veto when the Security Council sought to pass a resolution that called for immediate compliance with the Court’s ruling. Although the UN General Assembly succeeded in passing a non-binding resolution in the next month, the US refused to make reparation to Nicaragua. In March 1988, the USA maintained its position to not participate in the case. Eventually, Nicaragua relented as seen by its declaration to the Court in September 1991 to discontinue the proceedings.

What can we learn from this case study?
Use the following questions to assess your understanding of this case:
– Did ICJ manage to perform its arbitration role effectively?
– What are the critical factors that determined the effectiveness of ICJ in ensuring member states adhere to the international law?

In preparation for the GCE A Level examinations, it may seem like a daunting task, given the complexity of questions and broad coverage of content. As such, you can consider joining our complementary classes, such as the Economics Tuition and GP Tuition. These JC tuition programmes will be instrumental in developing your thinking and writing skills to become more competent and ready for the assessments. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition.

JC History Tuition Notes Bukit Timah Bishan Bedok Singapore - What happened at the Corfu Channel - United Nations

What was the Corfu Channel incident?

The Corfu Channel case [1947-1949] was the first-ever case that the newly-formed International Court of Justice (ICJ) presided over. It was a contentious case that involved a series of encounters between the United Kingdom (UK) and the People’s Republic of Albania. The case was based on the premise that Albanian vessels and mines caused significant damage to British ships and human casualties. Following the ruling passed by the ICJ, the Albanian government had to compensate the UK. Although the accused initially refused to comply, reparations were eventually paid to UK in 1996.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security – International Court of Justice: ensuring adherence to international law; arbitration and advisory opinion

In the following section, we will examine the background of the incident, the role of ICJ and the final outcome of the case. By doing so, knowledge of this case study will be useful for students when they answer United Nations essay questions that discuss the relevance and effectiveness of the ICJ. 

1. [Albania & UK] Three naval encounters: Trouble brewing in the seas
The incident took place in a time when the Cold War-related Greek Civil War (1946-1949) began.

The first incident involved the two British cruisers – HMS Orion and HMS Superb – that were fired upon by Albanian shore batteries on 15 May 1946, while passing through the northern part of the Corfu Channel. In response, the UK lodged a formal protest, demanding an apology from the Albanian government. However, the latter responded with the claim that the two British cruisers had entered Albanian territory, thus justifying their retaliation.

The second incident took place on 22 October 1946, in which a fleet of Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers (UK) entered the Corfu Channel. Then, two British destroyers – HMS Saumarez and HMS Volage were heavily damaged by naval mines. As a result, about 44 were killed and 42 were injured. Later, Albania claimed that the mines were laid by Greece, thus denying responsibility for the accident.

The third incident happened on two consecutive days: 12-13 November 1946. Following the tragic incident, the Royal Navy conducted a mine clearing operation (‘Operation Retail’) in the Corfu Channel. The Albanian government protested against this operation as it was carried out without their approval, given that it was done within Albanian territory.

2. [ICJ] The Proceedings: A score to settle
On 22 May 1947, UK brought the case to the ICJ, requesting Albania to pay reparations. After a substantial period of deliberation for nearly two years, the ICJ concluded that the UK did not violate Albanian territorial waters as the Corfu Channel was meant for international navigation. More importantly, Albania bore the responsibility to warn other states of the naval mines that were present. Hence, the ICJ ordered Albania to pay UK£843,947 as compensation to the UK.

However, ICJ’s ruling was met with non-compliance from Albania, reflecting the absence of enforcement powers to ensure strict adherence to the international law. During the Cold War era, Albania received strong political backing from the Soviet Union, given the former’s ideological inclination towards Marxism-Leninism.

3. Outcome: Significance of the Corfu Channel case
Nevertheless, the dissolution of Soviet Union in 1991 also led to the end of socialism in Albania. On 8 May 1992, both the UK and Albania arrived at a common consensus to end the case. Albania agreed to pay US$2 million to the UK, while the UK returned 1,574 kg of gold to Albania (which was looted by the Nazi Germany during WWII).

From then on, the Corfu Channel case had set the precedence for other contentious cases that the ICJ managed, particularly in matters pertaining to the naval international law. One notable implication was the provision of an international law pertaining to sea navigation. The case influenced the International Law Commission (ILC) to draft the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I) in 1958. Another significant legacy of the case was its impact on the questionable legality of force, which resurfaced during the Nicaragua v. United States (1986).

What can we learn from this case study?
Use the following questions to assess your understanding of this case:
– What were the factors that determined the political effectiveness of the ICJ in dealing with the Corfu Channel case? 
– Was compliance of member states the most important factor?

If you are interested to study effectively for other subjects to prepare for the GCE A Level examinations, we recommend you to sign up for the Economics Tuition and GP Tuition, which are headed by experienced tutors. These programmes include online learning features, like the use of mobile applications, to keep your revision productive and purposeful. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition.

JC History Tuition Notes Bukit Timah Bishan Bedok Singapore - What caused the Congo Crisis - United Nations

What was the Congo Crisis?

What was the Congo Crisis?

The Congo Crisis (5 Jul 1960 – 25 Nov 1965) was considered a proxy war in the Cold War era that lasted till 1991. Generally, it was an internal conflict between the Republic of the Congo (supported by USA and the UN) and secessionist states of Katanga and South Kasai (backed by the Soviet Union and Belgium). With the support of the United Nations, the Republic of the Congo succeeded in preventing the secession of Katanga and South Kasai. However, any semblance of political stability in Congo was absent as Coloniel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu took over and established a dictatorship that lasted until 1997.

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security 

In the following section, we will identify the challenges to understand the implications on the political effectiveness of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations.

1. [Belgium, South Kasai and Katanga] The prelude to a crisis
Following the declaration of Congo’s independence from the Belgium colonials on 30 Jun 1960, many internal problems began to surface.

On 5 Jul 1960, a mutiny broke out, involving the army of the newly-independent Congo and the Belgians. In response, the Belgian government deployed military personnel into Congo to defend its fleeing citizens. Additionally, Katanga (led by Moïse Tshombe) and South Kasai undertook secessionist efforts with the support from the Belgians.

The Congolese government, which was led by Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, objected to foreign intervention, given its newly-earned sovereign rights. As such, he requested aid from the UN. Although the UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld deployed UN peacekeepers (United Nations Force in the Congo – ONUC), he stated clearly that these troops would not be used to support Lumumba’s political agenda of preventing the secession as the UN was hamstrung by the neutrality principle.

2. [Soviet Union] Cold War expansion
The outraged Lumumba then turned to the Soviet Union, which sent its military advisors to Congo. However, the incompetence of the Lumumba government in handling the internal problems as well as the reliance on a new external power had caused an internal political disunity.

As a political deadlock between Prime Minister Lumumba and President Joseph Kasavubu was evident, Colonel Mobutu led the Congolese army and launched a coup d’état. Mobutu formed the new government and quickly removed the Soviet advisors.

Eventually, the deposed Lumumba was captured and executed in 1961. Khrushchev of the Soviet Union blamed the UN for the death of Lumumba and demanded the resignation of the UN Secretary-General as well as the replacement of the position with a troika – a three-man executive that held the power of veto. Dag Hammarskjöld responded diplomatically, earning a standing ovation from many delegates in the UN General Assembly.

However, while Hammarskjöld was on board an aircraft to oversee the ceasefire negotiations with Tshombe of Katanga, he died in a plane crash on 18 Sep 1961. Abruptly, U Thant was thrust into position as the new UN Secretary-General.

3. [United Nations] Knee-deep military intervention
In contrast to Hammarskjöld’s cautious diplomatic attempts, U Thant undertook a different approach that increased the UN involvement in the conflict between the Congolese government and the secessionists.

On 24 Nov 1961, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 169, which concluded that external intervention was necessary for conflict resolution to be achieved. U Thant was authorized to employ any necessary measures to end the secession in Katanga. Clearly, the notion of neutral peacekeeping was thrown out of the window.

The UN took on a new approach of ‘peace enforcement’, as illustrated by Operation Grandslam (Dec 1962 – Jan 1963), which involved a direct military offensive against the secessionists in Katanga. Their efforts had finally paid off, but at great cost. The UN had succeeded in fulfilling its mandate.

What was the outcome?
After the Katanga secession came to an end, the Congolese government sought to restore social and political stability. However, the peace was short-lived due to the Simba and Kwilu rebellions in 1964. This time, Colonel Mobutu stepped in and ruled Congo, which was then renamed as ‘Zaire’ in 1971.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand the case study better:
– What were the obstacles that hindered UN peacekeeping efforts during the Congo Crisis? 
– Comparing the actions of Dag Hammarskjöld and U Thant, what were the defining qualities of a UN Secretary-General that would determine the effectiveness of the UN in the Congo Crisis? [to be discussed in class]

Apart from this case study discussion, we also provide other complementary A Level programmes, like Economics Tuition and GP Tuition, that are instrumental in developing reflective thinking skills. Furthermore, our exam-driven approach that focuses on knowledge application through consistent and regular class practices will bring you closer to the ‘A’ at the GCE A Level examinations. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition.

JC History Tuition Notes Bukit Timah Bishan Bedok Singapore - What caused the 1948 Arab Israeli War - United Nations

What caused the 1948 Arab-Israeli war?

What is the Arab-Israeli conflict?

On 14 May 1948, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared the independence of Israel, which then led to the outbreak of war. Following the termination of the British Mandate, armies belonging to five Arab nations (Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt) formed a military coalition and invaded Israel. Eventually, Israel achieved victory against the Arab forces.

From the Israel’s perspective, the conflict was known as the ‘War of Independence’. In contrast, the displaced Palestinians described the incident as the ‘Nakba‘, also known as ‘Catastrophe’, given the expulsion of more than 50% of the Palestinian Arabs from their homes.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 2: Political Effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security 

In the following section, we will examine what are the factors that could have led to the start of this conflict as well as the involvement of the newly-formed United Nations. We will be discussing this topic from the four key roles: United Kingdom, Israel, Arab nations and the United Nations

1. [United Kingdom] Balfour Declaration: Seeds of Disaster
The first contributing factor relates to the United Kingdom’s proposed plans for the British Jewish community in creating a ‘home’ in Palestine. On 2 Nov 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour signed the Balfour Declaration, which stated that:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

In short, the Balfour Declaration meant that the Jews were given the promise that a ‘national home’ would be established in the Palestine area, while ensuring the rights of the affected people were protected.

Following the end of World War I, the League of Nations oversaw the creation of Mandatory Palestine, in which the British was granted the right of rule.

However, the British support for the creation of a Jewish home had set the grounds for conflict, as seen by the series of Arab attacks in 1920, 1929 and 1936.

2. [Israel] Zionism: A National Movement
The second consideration for the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 can be traced to the 19th century, in which the founder of the Modern Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, shared his vision of an independent Jewish state in the 20th century.

Zionism then became the leading national movement that guided the Jewish people to establish a ‘national home’ in Palestine, which they described as the biblical ‘Land of Israel’. As such, the Jewish community pursued the aim of ’emancipation and self-determination’, which were building blocks of statehood.

However, this zealous movement was met with resistance by the Arab nations. In response to the creation of an independent Israel, the five (above-mentioned) Arab countries were guided by their shared religious belief and waged a war.

3. [Arab Nations] Arab Nationalism: A United Front
The third factor involves Arab nationalism, which emerged due to the shared cultural-religions and historical background. The Arab nations held a common perception that the Western powers were more inclined to support Israel, as evidenced by the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

As such, the declaration of Israel’s independence in 1948 served as a pretext for the Arab coalition to fight against a ‘common enemy’ and challenge the Western powers.

4. [United Nations] Partition Plan: Resolution Attempts
Before the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict began, the United Nations put forward a proposal, known as the Partition Plan for Palestine on 29 Nov 1947. The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 (II), which was an urgent attempt to resolve the conflict between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism.

The Plan involved the territorial division of Palestine into three areas, namely a Jewish state, Arab state and the ‘City of Jerusalem’ (corpus separatum). Given the shared religious significance of Jerusalem for both the Jewish and Arab people, the third area was to be ‘under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations’.

However, the Partition Plan was rejected by the Arab governments as they claimed the arrangement violated the principles of ‘self-determination’, which was enshrined in the UN Charter. Subsequently, a civil war broke out between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine, lasting approximately five months until Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948.

What was the outcome?
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Israel repelled the Arab coalition forces successfully and occupied about 60% of the area that was supposedly allocated to Palestine Arabs as stated in the UN Partition Plan. Also, the conflict led to the massive exodus of Palestinian Arabs from the area that was subsequently recognized as ‘Israel’. From then on, the Arab-Israeli relations were strained, as the following decades saw the outbreak of similar conflicts, such as the Suez Canal crisis and the Six-Day War.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand the incident better:
– Were political arrangements, such as the Partition Plan, doomed to fail?  
– How did the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict affect the political effectiveness of the United Nations in the latter’s conduct of peacekeeping missions till 1991? [to be discussed in class]

On a separate note, we conduct other relevant A Level Tuition programmes, such Economics Tuition and GP Tuition that provide you the conducive environment for the development of critical thinking skills to write persuasively and in a concise manner. Hence, the attainment of ‘A’ is within your grasp at the GCE A Level examinations. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition.