The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an interim order, asking the United States to lift sanctions linked to humanitarian aid and civil aviation against Iran.
The ICJ said in its ruling on Wednesday, “on humanitarian grounds, the US must remove by means of its choosing any impediment to the free exportation to Iran of goods involving humanitarian concerns.” Even though the ICJ’s rulings are legally binding, it does not possess any power to enforce them.
The US government re-imposed sanctions on Iran in May after it withdrew from the nuclear deal signed between six world powers and Iran. The latter challenged the sanctions in July by filing a case at the ICJ. Iran argued that the sanctions violated the 1955 Treaty of Amity between the US and Iran.
The ruling specifically mentioned the removal of any impediments that may arise from US sanctions in the export to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and necessary equipment to ensure civil aviation safety.
The court president Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf also clarified that the ruling “does not prejudge the ultimate outcome of the case or establish that the court has jurisdiction.” Since this ruling was an interim order, the case could still go on for years until a final ruling.
There was no immediate American response to the ruling although the US has insisted that the court has no jurisdiction over the matter.
The court also said that the US sanctions “have the potential to endanger civil aviation safety” in Iran, and that the limiting of sale of goods like food, medicine could have a seriously negative impact on the health and lives of Iranian citizens.
The court also directed the US government to make sure that licenses and necessary authorizations are granted and payments are not restricted if they are concerning humanitarian and aviation goods. The court urged both Iran and the US to “refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute.”