Qatar on Monday submitted its rejoinders in two cases on appeal before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), responding to arguments made by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The ICJ is considering the jurisdiction of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regarding the resumption of the Council’s decision over the complaint Qatar submitted to the Council to consider the cases arising from the joint appellants’ sudden imposition on 5 June 2017 of far-reaching prohibitions on all Qatar-registered aircraft from flying to or from the joint appellants’ airports and from overflying their national airspace and Flight Information Regions (FIR).
On 20 October 2017, Qatar filed two applications instituting proceedings before the ICAO – a United Nations specialised agency – one under Article 84 of the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation (“Chicago Convention”) against Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and one under Article II, Section 2 of the 1944 International Air Services Transit Agreement (“IASTA”) against Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt. In its two applications, Qatar detailed the joint appellants’ violations of the Chicago Convention and the IASTA, and requested the ICAO Council to adjudge and declare the aviation prohibitions unlawful.
On 19 March 2018, the joint appellants raised preliminary objections to the Council’s jurisdiction to hear Qatar’s claims in both cases. After an exchange of written arguments and oral hearings, the ICAO Council issued, on 29 June 2018, decisions dismissing the joint appellants’ preliminary objections in both cases. In other words, the council agreed with Qatar that it has jurisdiction over Qatar’s claims.
On 4 July 2018, the joint appellants appealed both of the Council’s decisions on jurisdiction to the ICJ. Subsequently, the joint appellants filed their memorials, Qatar filed its counter-memorials, the joint appellants filed their replies, and on Monday Qatar filed its rejoinders.
After Monday’s submission, it will be followed by oral hearings that will take place by the end of 2019. Qatar will further demonstrate that the joint appellant’s arguments are unpersuasive. Following the oral hearings, the court will deliberate and issue a final decision on whether the ICAO Council has a jurisdiction over Qatar’s claims or not.
The State of Qatar is formally represented before the ICJ by Dr Mohamed Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi, Dean of the College of Law at Qatar University. Dr al-Khulaifi stated: “Today’s rejoinders mark the end of the written submissions before the court in the ICAO cases. Qatar has successfully demonstrated that the grounds of appeal invoked by the joint appellants are baseless. We look forward to further presenting our arguments in the upcoming oral hearings and to receiving the court’s judgement so that the ICAO Council can examine the cases on the merits.”