Case Commentary: Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal): the Effect of the Judgment of 20 July 2012 of the International Court of Justice

Available in Russian

Author: Solveig Henry

Keywords: Convention Against Torture; Interest in Bringing the Claim; International Court of Justice; international customary law; Jus cogens; Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite; Obligations erga omnes partes; Preliminary Inquiry Into the Facts; Universal Jurisdiction


By a decision of 20 July 2012 in the case Belgium v. Senegal the International Court of Justice has ruled on whether Senegal was in violation of its obligations to prosecute or extradite former president Habré of the Republic of Chad under the Convention Against Torture as well as under customary international law. Based on its findings that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the claims of Belgium relating to the alleged breaches by Senegal of its obligations under customary international law and that Belgium has standing as a State party to the Convention Against Torture to bring a claim to the Court, the ICJ decided the case on the merits. By implementing the obligations provided for in the Convention, in the context of achieving the object and purpose of that instrument, the ICJ has concluded that Senegal was in breach of the Convention and that it must without delay submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, if it does not extradite Mr. Habré.