International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered the United States to lift some of the economic sanctions it has imposed on Iran.

Iran had in August, approached the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, claiming that the sanctions violated a 1955 bilateral treaty regulating trade and commerce between the two countries.

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Iran brought the case to the ICJ, seeking an emergency suspension of the sanctions, which affect the importation of humanitarian goods and products, as well as the safety of civilian aircraft.

The ICJ ruled that restrictions on importing “foodstuffs and medicines, including life-saving medicines, treatment for a chronic disease or preventive care, and medical equipment, may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.”

President Donald Trump announced in May that the U.S. was withdrawing from the 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, known as the JCPOA – reached by Iran, the five permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and the European Union.

The U.S. President ordered that sanctions lifted in connection with the agreement, to be re-imposed, while the sanctions be imposed on anyone doing business with Iran in areas such as finance, oil and shipping.

In its ruling, the ICJ found Iran’s case to be credible and urgent, and ordered the U.S. to “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from the measures announced on 8 May”.

It also ordered the U.S. to allow medicines and medical devices, foodstuff and agricultural goods into Iran, together with “spare parts, equipment and associated services (including warranty, maintenance, repair services and inspections) necessary for the safety of civil aviation”.

The decision was reportedly the first time that international judges have ruled on a case of “economic warfare.”