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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What was the Fisheries case about (Iceland v. United Kingdom) - JC History Essay Notes

What was the Fisheries Jurisdiction case about?

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

Learn more about the developments of the three Cold Wars that affected UK-Iceland relations.

Dollar and Cents: The Significance of Icelandic Fisheries
Iceland has one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The fishing industry is recognised as a key pillar of its economy. It employs nearly 5.3% of its total workforce. It exports a wide range of fish and seafood such as the valuable cod and haddock. Currently, Iceland maintains a 200 nautical miles exclusive fishing zone.

Did you know that the UK spends about £1.2 billion on Fish & Chips annually? Most of UK’s cod and haddock comes from Icelandic and Norwegian Seas.

A Fishy Situation: Disputes over the Delineation of Fishing Zones
In 1948, the Icelandic government passed a law to establish conservation zones for fishing. In 1952, a 4-mile zone was drawn. Six years later, a new 12-mile fishery limit was made exclusive for Icelandic fisherman. However, the United Kingdom (UK) rejected the validity of the Icelandic regulations, even though the latter’s fishermen continued to fish within this newly-declared 12-mile limit.

The First Cod War (1958-1961)
Once the newly-introduced Icelandic law came into force on 1 September 1958, the first Cod War began. The British deployed their four warships from the Royal Navy (HMS Eastbourne, HMS Russell, HMS Palliser and HMS Hound) to protect their fishing trawlers. Likewise, Iceland sent eight small coastguard patrol vessels, including the largest frigate known as the Thor.

The furious Icelandic officials threatened to withdraw Iceland’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) unless mediation was carried out. Eventually, NATO agreed to engage in formal and informal mediations to resolve the matter.

Both the UK and Iceland reached a settlement in the Exchange of Notes (known as the 1961 Agreement) on 8 June 1961. Both parties agreed to a 12-mile fishery zone situated around Iceland.

The United Kingdom Government will no longer object to a twelve-mile fishery zone around Iceland measured from the base lines specified in paragraph 2 below which relate solely to the delimitation of that zone...

The Icelandic Government will not object to vessels registered in the United Kingdom fishing within the outer six miles of the fishery zone

Exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and Iceland, 8 June 1961.

The Second Cod War (1972-1973)
Yet, the consensus did not last as Iceland extended its fisheries jurisdiction to a 50-mile zone on 28 November 1971. Iceland claimed that the 1961 agreement was no longer in effect.

Many Western European states opposed Iceland’s extension, but the Icelandic government maintained its position, arguing that the Cod Wars were part of a bigger conflict against ‘imperialism’ and the achievement of economic independence.

On 1 September 1972, the Iceland law was enforced. Many British and West German trawlers continued to fish within the newly-declared zone. This time, the Icelandic Coast Guard ships were armed with trawl wire cutters to undermine non-Icelandic vessels. The second confrontation was tense as British and Icelandic ships rammed each other.

Fortunately, NATO oversaw a series of talks between the UK and Iceland, starting on 16 September 1973. The outcome in Iceland’s favour as the British warships were recalled a month later.

The Court’s ruling: The crystallisation of customary laws
Additionally, the UK filed an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 14 April 1972 to contest Iceland’s unilateral decision to extend the fishing zone. It pointed out to the Court that Iceland’s claim to zone of exclusive fisheries jurisdiction extending to 50 miles contravenes international law.

On 25 July 1974, the Court ruled in favour of the UK. It concluded that Iceland’s extension to a 50-mile zone in 1971 was invalid, given that Iceland could not exclude the UK from the newly-defined areas between the fishery limits decided in the 1961 agreement. Iceland had to adhere to the 12-mile fishery zone jurisdiction.

Also, ICJ advised both parties to undertake negotiations to resolve their differences amicably. For example, the British agreed to limit fishing activities to areas within the designated limit of Iceland.

Subsequently, two concepts were accepted as part of customary law. First, a fishery zone up to a 12-mile limit from the baseline is acceptable. Second, preferential fishing rights should be granted to a coastal state that has special dependence on its coastal fisheries.

The Third Cod War (1975-1976)
Following the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) in 1975, the Icelandic government again announced its intentions to extend its fishery limits to 200 nautical miles from its coast. There were several clashes between Icelandic and British ships, including ramming and net cutting incidents.

The Cod Wars - The Guardian
Cartoon Illustration on ‘The Cod Wars’ from The Guardian [2 June 1976]

On 1 June 1976, NATO mediated sessions for the two parties. An agreement was made, in which the UK could keep 24 trawlers within the 200 nautical miles and their catch was capped at 50,000 tons.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the International Court of Justice was effective in ensuring adherence to the international law [to be discussed in class].

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn to apply your knowledge to source-based case study questions (SBCS), including the topic on the ICJ and UN. We provide summary notes to consolidate the key issues for each topic such that you can study efficiently and effectively. We also offer other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

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.