UN top court rules Qatar blockade is illegal

In a humiliating defeat for Saudi Arabia and its allies, the top UN court has ruled in a 16-1 decision in favour of Qatar over the ongoing dispute between Doha and its Gulf neighbours.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) dismissed, today, the appeal lodged by Saudi Arabia,UAE, Egypt and Bahrain against the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The aviation body had ruled two years ago that the air blockade imposed by the four countries was illegal.

The top UN court backed Qatar and unanimously “rejects the appeal” by the four blockading states against the decision by the world civil aviation body who ruled in favour of Doha over sovereign airspace, ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said.

ICAO ruled in 2018 that it had the jurisdiction to handle a dispute brought by Qatar, which accused its neighbours of violating international conventions that regulate the free passage of its passenger planes through foreign airspace.

Qatar to UAE minister: ‘Blockading countries ignore reconciliation efforts’

Saudi and its allies rejected the verdict insisting that ICAO was not the right body to judge in the dispute and that its decision to do so was “manifestly flawed and in violation of fundamental principles of due process and the right to be heard.” They had asked the ICJ to declare the aviation body’s ruling “null and void and without effect”.

Welcoming the verdict an official Qatari press release said: “Since June 2017, the Blockading States have prohibited Qatar-registered aircraft from flying to or from their airports and overflying their national airspaces, in flagrant violation of international law. In two judgements released today, the ICJ rejected all three grounds of appeal raised by the Blockading States, finding that the ICAO has jurisdiction to hear Qatar’s claims. The ICAO Council will now resume its proceedings.”

Qatar’s Communication and Transport Minister added: “We welcome today’s decision by the ICJ that will see the Blockading States finally face justice for violating international aviation rules. We are confident that the ICAO will ultimately find these actions unlawful. This is the latest in a series of rulings that expose the Blockading Countries’ continued disregard for international law and due process. Step by step their arguments are being dismantled, and Qatar’s position vindicated.”