sábado, agosto 8, 2020
 

Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the Case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) (Mexico v. United States of America)

 

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION OF THE JUDGMENT OF 31 MARCH 2004
IN THE CASE CONCERNING AVENA AND OTHER MEXICAN NATIONALS (MEXICO v. UNITED STATES OFAMERICA) 

JUDGMENT OF 19 JANUARY 2009

Article 60 of the Statute of the Court — Independent basis of jurisdiction. Conditions on the exercise ofjurisdiction to entertain a request for interpreta¬tion — Question of the existence of a dispute as to the meaning or scope of paragraph 153 (9) of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 — For the Court to determine whether a dispute exists — No dispute as to whether para¬graph 153 (9) lays down an obligation of result.
Question of the existence of a dispute as to those upon whom the obligation of result specifically falls — Two possible approaches based on the Parties’ posi¬tions — Possible existence of a dispute as to those upon whom the obligation specifically falls — Possible absence of a dispute on this point failing a suffi¬ciently precise indication.
Question of the direct effect of the obligation established in para¬graph 153 (9) — No decision in the Judgment of 31 March 2004 as to the direct effect of the obligation — Question of direct effect therefore cannot be the subject of a request for interpretation — Reiteration of the principle that consider¬ations of domestic law cannot in any event relieve the Parties of obligations deriving from judgments of the Court.
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2009 19 January General List No. 139
Question of breach by the United States of its legal obligation to comply with the Order indicating provisional measures of 16 July 2008 — Court’s jurisdic¬tion to rule on this question in proceedings on a request for interpretation
— Question of possible violation by the United States of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 — Lack of jurisdiction of the Court to consider this question in proceedings for interpretation.
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Mexico’s request for the Court to order the United States to provide guaran¬tees of non-repetition — Binding character of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 — Undertakings already given by the United States.
JUDGMENT
Present: President HIGGINS; Vice-President AL-KHASAWNEH; Judges RANJEVA, KOROMA, BUERGENTHAL, OWADA, TOMKA, ABRAHAM, KEITH, SEPULVEDA-AMOR, BENNOUNA, SKOTNIKOV; Registrar COUVREUR.
In the case concerning the Request for interpretation of the Judgment of 31 March 2004,
between
the United Mexican States, represented by
H.E. Mr. Juan Manuel Gomez-Robledo, Ambassador, Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico,
H.E. Mr. Joel Antonio Hernandez Garcia, Ambassador, Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico,
H.E. Mr. Jorge Lomonaco Tonda, Ambassador of Mexico to the Kingdom of the Netherlands,
as Agents,
and
the United States of America, represented by
Mr. John B. Bellinger, III, Legal Adviser, United States Department of State,
as Agent;
Mr. James H. Thessin, Deputy Legal Adviser, United States Department of State,
as Co-Agent,
THE COURT,
composed as above,
after deliberation,
delivers the following Judgment:
1.    On 5 June 2008, the United Mexican States (hereinafter “Mexico”) filed in the Registry of the Court an Application instituting proceedings against the United States of America (hereinafter “the United States”), whereby, referring to Article 60 of the Statute and Articles 98 and 100 of the Rules of Court, it requests the Court to interpret paragraph 153 (9) of the Judgment delivered by the Court on 31 March 2004 in the case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) (I.C.J. Reports 2004 (I), p. 12) (hereinafter “the Avena Judgment”).
2.    Pursuant to Article 40, paragraph 2, of the Statute, the Application was immediately transmitted to the Government of the United States by the Regis¬trar; and, pursuant to Article 40, paragraph 3, all States entitled to appear before the Court were notified of the Application.
3.    On 5 June 2008, after filing its Application, Mexico, referring to Article 41 of the Statute and Articles 73 , 74 and 75 of the Rules of Court, filed in the Registry of the Court a request for the indication of provisional measures in order “to preserve the rights of Mexico and its nationals” pending the Court’s judgment in the proceedings on the interpretation of the Avena Judgment.
By an Order of 16 July 2008 (Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the Case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) (Mexico v. United States of America), Provisional Measures, Order of 16 July 2008, I.C.J. Reports 2008), the Court, having rejected the submission by the United States seeking the dismissal of the Application filed by Mexico (p. 331, para. 80 (I)) and its removal from the Court’s General List, indicated the following provisional measures (pp. 331¬332, para. 80 (II)):
“(a) The United States of America shall take all measures necessary to ensure that Messrs. Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas, Cesar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, Humberto Leal Garcia, and Roberto Moreno Ramos are not executed pending judgment on the Request for interpretation submitted by the United Mexican States, unless and until these five Mexican nationals receive review and reconsideration consistent with paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Court’s Judgment delivered on 31 March 2004 in the case concern¬ing Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America);
(b) The Government of the United States of America shall inform the Court of the measures taken in implementation of this Order.”
It also decided that, “until the Court has rendered its judgment on the Request for interpretation, it shall remain seised of the matters” which form the subject of the Order (p. 332, para. 80 (III)).
4.    By letters dated 16 July 2008, the Registrar informed the Parties that the Court, pursuant to Article 98, paragraph 3, of the Rules of Court, had fixed 29 August 2008 as the time-limit for the filing of Written
Observations by the United States on Mexico’s Request for interpretation.
5.    By a letter dated 1 August 2008 and received in the Registry the same day, the Agent of the United States, referring to paragraph 80 (II) (b) of the Order of 16 July 2008, informed the Court of the measures which the United States “ha[d] taken and continue[d] to take” to implement that Order.
6.    By a letter dated 28 August 2008 and received in the Registry the same day, the Agent of Mexico, informing the Court of the execution on 5 August 2008 of Mr. Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas in the State of Texas, United States of America, and referring to Article 98, paragraph 4 of the Rules of Court, requested the Court to afford Mexico the opportunity of furnishing further written explanations for the purpose, on the one hand, of elaborating on the merits of the Request for interpretation in the light of the written Observations which the United States was due to file and, on the other, of “amending its pleading to state a claim based on the violation of the Order of 16 July 2008”.
7.    On 29 August 2008, within the time-limit fixed, the United States filed its Written Observations on Mexico’s Request for interpretation.
8.    By letters dated 2 September 2008, the Registrar informed the Parties that the Court had decided to afford each of them the opportunity of furnishing further written explanations, pursuant to Article 98, paragraph 4, of the Rules of Court, and had fixed 17 September and 6 October 2008 as the time-limits for the filing by Mexico and the United States respectively of such further explana¬tions. These were filed by each Party within the time-limits thus fixed.
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9.    In the Application, the following requests were made by Mexico:
“The Government of Mexico asks the Court to adjudge and declare that the obligation incumbent upon the United States under paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment constitutes an obligation of result as it is clearly stated in the Judgment by the indication that the United States must pro¬vide ‘review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences’ but leaving it the ‘means of its own choosing’; and that, pursuant to the foregoing obligation of result,
1.    the United States must take any and all steps necessary to provide the reparation of review and reconsideration mandated by the Avena Judg¬ment; and
2.    the United States must take any and all steps necessary to ensure that no Mexican national entitled to review and reconsideration under the Avena Judgment is executed unless and until that review and reconsid¬eration is completed and it is determined that no prejudice resulted from the violation.”
10.    In the course of the proceedings, the following submissions were presented by the Parties :
On behalf of Mexico,
in the further written explanations submitted to the Court on 17 September 2008:
“Based on the foregoing, the Government of Mexico asks the Court to adjudge and declare as follows :
(a)    That the correct interpretation of the obligation incumbent upon the United States under paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment is that it is an obligation of result as it is clearly stated in the Judgment by the indication that the United States must provide ‘review and recon¬sideration of the convictions and sentences’;
and that, pursuant to the interpretation of the foregoing obligation of result,
(1)    the United States, acting through all of its competent organs and all its constituent subdivisions, including all branches of govern¬ment and any official, state or federal, exercising government authority, must take all measures necessary to provide the repara¬tion of review and reconsideration mandated by the Avena Judgment in paragraph 153 (9); and
(2)    the United States, acting through all its competent organs and all its constituent subdivisions, including all branches of govern¬ment and any official, state or federal, exercising government authority, must take all measures necessary to ensure that no Mexican national entitled to review and reconsideration under the Avena Judgment is executed unless and until that review and reconsideration is completed and it is determined that no pre-judice resulted from the violation;
(b)    That the United States breached the Court’s Order of 16 July 2008 and the Avena Judgment by executing Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas without having provided him review and reconsideration consistent with the terms of the Avena Judgment; and
(c)    That the United States is required to guarantee that no other Mexi¬can national entitled to review and reconsideration under the Avena Judgment is executed unless and until that review and reconsideration is completed and it is determined that no prejudice resulted from the violation.”
On behalf of the United States,
in its Written Observations submitted on 29 August 2008:
“On the basis of the facts and arguments set out above, the Government of the United States of America requests that the Court adjudge and declare that the application of the United Mexican States is dismissed, but if the Court shall decline to dismiss the application, that the Court adjudge and declare an interpretation of the Avena Judgment in accordance with paragraph 62 above.” (Para. 63.)
Paragraph 60 of the Written Observations of the United States includes the following:
“And the United States agrees with Mexico’s requested interpretation; it agrees that the Avena Judgment imposes an ‘obligation of result’. There is thus nothing for the Court to adjudicate, and Mexico’s application must be dismissed.”
Paragraph 62 of the Written Observations of the United States includes the following:
“the United States requests that the Court interpret the Judgment as Mexico has requested — that is, as follows:
“[T]he obligation incumbent upon the United States under para¬graph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment constitutes an obligation of result as it is clearly stated in the Judgment by the indication that the United States must provide ‘review and reconsideration of the convic¬tions and sentences’ but leaving it the ‘means of its own choosing'”;
in the further written explanations submitted to the Court on 6 October 2008 :
“On the basis of the facts and arguments set out above and in the United States’ initial Written Observations on the Application for Inter¬pretation, the Government of the United States of America requests that the Court adjudge and declare that the application of the United Mexican States for interpretation of the Avena Judgment is dismissed. In the alter¬native and as subsidiary submissions in the event that the Court should decline to dismiss the application in its entirety, the United States requests that the Court adjudge and declare:
(a) that the following supplemental requests by Mexico are dismissed:
(1)    that the Court declare that the United States breached the Court’s July 16 Order;
(2)    that the Court declare that the United States breached the Avena Judgment; and
(3)    that the Court order the United States to issue a guarantee of non-repetition;
(b) an interpretation of the Avena Judgment in accordance with para¬graph 86 (a) of Mexico’s Response to the Written Observations of the United States.”
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11.    The Court recalls that in paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment the Court had found that:
“the appropriate reparation in this case consists in the obligation of the United States of America to provide, by means of its own choos¬ing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the Mexican nationals referred to in subparagraphs (4), (5), (6) and (7) above, by taking account both of the violation of the rights set forth in Article 36 of the [Vienna] Convention [on Consular Rela¬tions] and of paragraphs 138 to 141 of this Judgment”.
12.    Mexico asked for an interpretation as to whether paragraph 153 (9) expresses an obligation of result and requested that the Court should so state, as well as issue certain orders to the United States “pursuant to the foregoing obligation of result” (see paragraph 9 above).
13.    Mexico’s Request for interpretation of paragraph 153 (9) of the Court’s Judgment of 31 March 2004 was made by reference to Article 60 of the Statute. That Article provides that “[t]he judgment is final and without appeal. In the event of dispute [‘contestation’ in the French version] as to the meaning or scope of the judgment, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party.”
14.    The United States informed the Court that it agreed that the obli¬gation in paragraph 153 (9) was an obligation of result and, there being no dispute between the Parties as to the meaning or scope of the words of which Mexico requested an interpretation, Article 60 of the Statute did not confer jurisdiction on the Court to make the interpretation (Order, p. 322, para. 41). In its Written Observations of 29 August 2008, the United States also contended that the absence of a dispute about the meaning or scope of paragraph 153 (9) rendered Mexico’s Application inadmissible.
15.    The Court notes that its Order of 16 July 2008 on provisional measures was not made on the basis of prima facie jurisdiction. Rather, the Court stated that “the Court’s jurisdiction on the basis of Article 60 of the Statute is not preconditioned by the existence of any other basis of jurisdiction as between the parties to the original case” (ibid., p. 323, para. 44).
The Court also affirmed that the withdrawal by the United States from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes since the rendering of the Avena Judgment had no bearing on the Court’s jurisdiction under Article 60 of the Statute (ibid., p. 323, para. 44).
16.    In its Order of 16 July 2008, the Court had addressed whether the conditions laid down in Article 60 “for the Court to entertain a request for interpretation appeared to be satisfied” (ibid., p. 323, para. 45), observing that “the Court may entertain a request for interpretation of any judgment rendered by it provided that there is a ‘dispute as to the meaning or scope of [the said] judgment'” (ibid., p. 323, para. 46).
17.    In the same Order, the Court pointed out that “the French and English versions of Article 60 of the Statute are not in total harmony” and that the existence of a dispute/”contestation” under Article 60 was not subject to satisfaction of the same criteria as that of a dispute (“dif- ferend” in the French text) as referred to in Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute (ibid., p. 325, para. 53). The Court nonetheless observed that “it seems both Parties regard paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment as an international obligation of result” (ibid., p. 326, para. 55).
18.    However, the Court also observed that
“the Parties nonetheless apparently hold different views as to the meaning and scope of that obligation of result, namely, whether that understanding is shared by all United States federal and state authori¬ties and whether that obligation falls upon those authorities” (Order, p. 326, para. 55).
19.    The Court stated that the decision rendered on the request for the indication of provisional measures “in no way prejudges any question that the Court may have to deal with relating to the Request for inter¬pretation” (ibid., p. 331, para. 79).
20.    Accordingly, in the present procedure it is appropriate for the Court to review again whether there does exist a dispute over whether the obligation in paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment is an obligation of result. The Court will also at this juncture need to consider whether there is indeed a difference of opinion between the Parties as to whether the obligation in paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment falls upon all United States federal and state authorities.
21.    As is clear from the settled jurisprudence of the Court, a dispute must exist for a request for interpretation to be admissible (Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 20 November 1950 in the Asylum Case (Colombia v. Peru), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1950, p. 402; Application for Revision and Interpretation of the Judgment of 24 February 1982 in the Case concerning the Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jama- hiriya) (Tunisia v. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1985, pp. 216-217, para. 44; see also Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 11 June 1998 in the Case concerning the Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria (Cameroon v. Nigeria), Prelim¬inary Objections (Nigeria v. Cameroon), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1999 (I), p. 36, para. 12).
22.    As recalled above in paragraphs 4 and 8, by letters dated 16 July 2008 and 2 September 2008, the Registrar informed the Parties that the Court had afforded the United States and Mexico the opportu¬nity of furnishing Written Observations and further written explanations pursuant to Article 98, paragraphs 3 and 4, of the Rules of Court.
23.    The Court has duly considered the observations and further writ¬ten explanations of the Parties regarding the existence of any dispute requiring interpretation as to whether the obligation to provide judicial review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the Mexi¬can nationals referred to in the Avena Judgment is an obligation of result.
24.    Mexico referred in particular to the actions of the United States federal Executive, claiming that certain actions reflected the United States disagreement with Mexico over the meaning or scope of the Avena Judg¬ment. According to Mexico, this difference of views manifested itself in the position taken by the United States Government in the Supreme Court: that the Avena Judgment was not directly enforceable under domestic law and was not binding on domestic courts without action by the President of the United States; and further that the obligation under Article 94 of the United Nations Charter to comply with judgments of the Court fell solely upon the political branches of the States parties to the Charter. In Mexico’s view,
“the operative language [of the Avena Judgment] establishes an obli¬gation of result reaching all organs of the United States, including the federal and state judiciaries, that must be discharged irrespective of domestic law impediments”.
Mexico maintains that the United States Government’s narrow reading of the means for implementing the Judgment led to its failure to take all the steps necessary to bring about compliance by all authorities con¬cerned with the obligation borne by the United States. In particular, Mexico noted that the United States Government had not sought to intervene in support of Mr. Medellin’s petition for a stay of execution before the United States Supreme Court. This course of conduct is alleged to reflect a fundamental disagreement between the Parties con¬cerning the obligation of the United States to bring about a specific result by any necessary means. Mexico further argues that the existence of a dispute is also shown by the fact that the competent executive, legislative and judicial organs at the federal and Texas state levels have taken posi¬tions in conflict with Mexico’s as to the meaning or scope of para¬graph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment.
25. The United States has, in its Written Observations of 29 August 2008 and its further written explanations of 6 October 2008, insisted that each of the matters brought to the attention of the Court by Mexico concerns not a dispute regarding whether the Parties perceive the obligations of paragraph 153 (9) as an obligation of result, but Mexico’s dissatisfaction with the implementation to date of that obligation by the United States. The United States claims that it has consistently agreed with Mexico’s interpretation of paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judg¬ment. Specifically, it concurs that subparagraph 9 requires it to take all necessary steps to ensure that no Mexican national named in the Judg¬ment is executed without having received the prescribed review and reconsideration and without a determination having been made that he has suffered no prejudice from the violation of the Convention. In par¬ticular, the United States contends that, in accordance with the discretion left to the United States by the Court as to the choice of means of com¬pliance with the Judgment, the President elected to comply by, inter alia, determining that the state courts were to give effect to the Judgment, as set out in a Memorandum of 28 February 2005 to the Attorney General of the United States. The executive branch thus argued in the case Medel- lin v. Texas in the Supreme Court that the President’s determination was lawful and binding on the state courts. According to the United States, no finding as to the existence of a difference of views between the Parties can be inferred from the controversy before the Supreme Court as to whether or not the Court’s judgments are self-executing, because that is strictly a matter of United States domestic law. The Supreme Court found that the Avena Judgment created an international obligation incum¬bent upon the United States. Further, the United States argues that posi¬tions taken by other governmental officials in the United States cannot provide any basis for a finding of a divergence of views between the Parties in respect of the interpretation of the Avena Judgment; it points out that Mexico’s argument in this regard is founded on positions taken by organs without the authority to express the State’s official position on the international plane. The fact that Texas, or any other constituent part of the United States, may hold a different interpretation of the Court’s Judgment is therefore irrelevant to the question before the Court.
26.    The United States on several occasions reiterated that the relevant obligation was one of result, and that while the Avena Judgment allowed it a choice of means, it was certain that the obligation had to be complied with.
27.    In its Order of 16 July 2008 the Court observed that “it seems both Parties regard paragraph 153 (9) as an international obligation of result” (Order, p. 326, para. 55). Its observations on the matter being provisional, the Court has reviewed the contentions of the Parties in the Written Obser¬vations of 29 August 2008 and the further written explanations of 17 Sep¬tember and 6 October 2008 as to whether they both accept that the obligation in paragraph 153 (9) is one of result — that is to say, an obli¬gation which requires a specific outcome. This means, in the particular case, the obligation upon the United States to provide review and reconsider¬ation consistent with paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment to those Mexican nationals named in the Avena Judgment who remain on death row without having had the benefit of such review and reconsider¬ation. In addition, Messrs. Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas, Cesar Rob-erto Fierro Reyna, Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, Humberto Leal Garcia, and Roberto Moreno Ramos were the subject of the Order on provi¬sional measures relating to that obligation issued by the Court on 16 July 2008. The Court observes that this obligation of result is one which must be met within a reasonable period of time. Even serious efforts of the United States, should they fall short of providing review and reconsideration consistent with paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment, would not be regarded as fulfilling this obligation of result.
28.    The United States has insisted that it fully accepts that para¬graph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment constitutes an obligation of result. It therefore continues to assert that there is no dispute over whether para¬graph 153 (9) expresses an obligation of result, and thus no dispute within the meaning of the condition in Article 60 of the Statute. Mexico contends, making reference to certain omissions of the federal govern¬ment to act and of certain actions and statements of organs of govern¬ment or other public authorities, that in reality the United States does not accept that it is under an obligation of result; and that therefore there is indeed a dispute under Article 60.
29.    It is for the Court itself to decide whether a dispute within the meaning of Article 60 of the Statute does indeed exist (see Interpretation of Judgments Nos. 7 and 8 (Factory at Chorzow), Judgment No. 11, 1927, P.C.I.J., Series A, No. 13, p. 12).
To this end, the Court has in particular examined the Written Obser¬vations and further written explanations of the Parties to ascertain their views in the light of the comments of the Court in paragraph 55 of the Order that they
“apparently hold different views as to the meaning and scope of that obligation of result, namely, whether that understanding is shared by all United States federal and state authorities and whether that obligation falls upon those authorities”.
30.    The Court observes that whether, by reference to the elements described above, there is a dispute under Article 60 of the Statute, the resolution of which requires an interpretation of the provisions of para¬graph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment, can be perceived in two ways.
31.    On the one hand, it could be said that a variety of factors suggest that there is a difference of perception that would constitute a dispute under Article 60 of the Statute.
Mexico observes that, in Medellin v. Texas (Supreme Court Reporter, Vol. 128, 2008, p. 1346), “the Federal Executive argued [in the United States Supreme Court] that Article 94 (1) [of the United Nations Charter] was directed only to the political branches of States Party . . . rather than to the State Party as a whole”, and adds that “[t]here is no support for that reading of Article 94 (1) in either its text, its object and purpose, or principles of general international law”. Mexico maintains that it was on the basis of this “erroneous interpretation” that
“the [Supreme] Court found that the expression of the obligation to comply in Article 94 (1) . . . precluded the judicial branch — the authority best suited to implement the obligation imposed by Avena — from taking steps to comply”,
the Supreme Court being of the view that the Charter provision referred to “a commitment on the part of U.N. Members to take future action through their political branches to comply with an ICJ decision” (ibid., p. 1358). In Mexico’s contention, it thus follows that the highest judicial authority in the United States has understood the Judgment in Avena as not laying down an obligation of result binding on all constituent organs of the United States, including the federal and state judicial authorities. From this perspective, not only is the obligation in paragraph 153 (9) not really regarded as an obligation of result, but, argues Mexico, such an interpretation puts to one side the finding in the Avena Judgment that:
“in cases where the breach of the individual rights of Mexican nationals under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the [Vienna Conven¬tion on Consular Relations] has resulted, in the sequence of judicial proceedings that has followed, in the individuals concerned being subjected to prolonged detention or convicted and sentenced to severe penalties, the legal consequences of this breach have to be examined and taken into account in the course of review and recon¬sideration. The Court considers that it is the judicial process that is suited to this task.” (Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2004 (I),pp. 65¬66, para. 140.)
Further, Mexico contends that this understanding by the Supreme Court is inconsistent with the interpretation of the Avena Judgment as imposing an obligation of result incumbent on all constituent organs of the United States, including the judiciary.
32.    From this viewpoint, the wording in Mexico’s concluding submis¬sions — wording introduced in its further written explanations of 17 September 2008 — was directed to affirming that the obligation in para¬graph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment is incumbent on all the constituent organs to be seen as comprising the United States (see paragraph 10 above).
Mexico moreover rejects the argument of the State of Texas that Mr. Medellin had, prior to his execution, received the review and recon¬sideration required by paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment from state and federal courts.
33.    According to Mexico, the United States, by word and deed, has contradicted its avowed acceptance of review and reconsideration as an obligation of result. Reference is made to the choice of the United States Government not to appear at the Supreme Court hearings on Mr. Medel- lin’s petition for a stay of execution. Mexico also points to the very tardy attempts to engage Congress in ensuring that all constituent elements do indeed act upon this obligation.
34.    Further, Mexico contends that the Supreme Court found that the obligation within paragraph 153 (9) could not be directly enforced by the judiciary on the basis of a Presidential memorandum nor otherwise with¬out intervention of the legislature. In Mexico’s view, this necessarily means that the obligation is not really regarded as one of result — a view¬point not shared by the United States.
35.    The Court observes that these elements could suggest a dispute between the Parties within the sense of Article 60 of the Statute.
36.    On the other hand, there are factors that suggest, on the contrary, that there is no dispute between the Parties. The Court notes — without necessarily agreeing with certain points made by the Supreme Court in its reasoning regarding international law — that the Supreme Court has stated that the Avena Judgment creates an obligation that is binding on the United States. This is so notwithstanding that it has said that the obligation has no direct effect in domestic law, and that it cannot be given effect by a Presidential Memorandum.
37. Referring to the Court’s statement in its Order of 16 July 2008 that there seemed to be a dispute as to the scope of the obligation in paragraph 153 (9), and upon whom precisely it fell, the United States reiterated in its Written Observations of 29 August 2008 that the federal government both “spoke for” and had responsibility for all organs and constituent elements of governmental authority. While that statement seems to be directed at matters different from what the Court perceived as the possible dispute in paragraph 55 of its Order of 16 July 2008, it could be said that Mexico addressed this question only somewhat indirectly in its further written explanations of 17 September 2008.
38. The Court notes that Article 98 (2) of the Rules of Court stipulates that when a party makes a request for interpretation of a judgment, “the precise point or points in dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judg¬ment shall be indicated”.
Mexico has had the opportunity to indicate the precise points in dis¬pute as to the meaning or scope of the Avena Judgment, first in its Appli¬cation of 5 June 2008 and then in the submissions made at the conclusion of its further written explanations of 17 September 2008.
The Application made reference to a dispute about whether the obliga¬tion in paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment was one of result; the United States rapidly signalled its agreement that the obligation incum¬bent upon it was an obligation of result. The matters emphasized by Mexico seemed particularly directed to the question of implementation by the United States of the obligations incumbent upon it as a conse¬quence of the Avena Judgment. The various passages in the further writ¬ten explanations of Mexico of 17 September 2008, while referring to certain actions and statements of the constituent organs of the United States and perceived failures to act in certain regards by the federal government, nonetheless remain very non-specific as to what the claimed dispute precisely is. Further, it is difficult to discern, save by inference, Mexico’s position regarding the existence of a dispute as to whether the obligation of result falls upon all state and federal authorities and as to whether they share an understanding that it does so fall.
39. The Court observes that, in its Application of 5 June 2008, Mexico simply asked that the Court affirm that the obligation incumbent upon the United States paragraph 153 (9) constitutes an obligation of result.
When Mexico formulated its submissions in the oral hearings on the request for the indication of provisional measures, it submitted:
“(a) that the United States, acting through all its competent organs and all its constituent subdivisions, including all branches of government and any official, state or federal, exercising gov¬ernment authority, take all measures necessary to ensure that Jose Ernesto Medellin, Cesar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, Humberto Leal Garcia, and Roberto Moreno Ramos are not executed pending the conclusion of the proceedings instituted by Mexico on 5 June 2008, unless and until the five Mexican nationals have received review and reconsideration consistent with paragraphs 138 through 141 of this Court’s Avena Judgment;”
40.    Mexico had a further opportunity to indicate the precise points it regarded as in dispute when it reformulated its concluding submissions in paragraphs 86 (a) (1) and (2) of its further written explanations of 17 September 2008 (see paragraph 32 above).
41.    The Court observes it could be argued that the claim in para¬graph 86 (a) (1) that the United States “acting through all its competent organs . . . must take all measures necessary to provide the reparation of review and reconsideration” does not say that there is an obligation of result falling upon the various competent organs, constituent subdivi¬sions and public authorities, but only that the United States will act through these in itself fulfilling the obligations incumbent on it under paragraph 153 (9).
The same wording of “the United States, acting through all its compe¬tent organs and all its constituent subdivisions” appears in para¬graph 86 (a) (2) of Mexico’s concluding submissions. Whether in terms of meeting the requirements of Article 98 (2) of the Rules, or more gener¬ally, it could be argued that in the end Mexico has not established the existence of any dispute between itself and the United States. Moreover, the United States has made clear that it can agree with the first conclud¬ing submission (point (a)) of Mexico, requesting in its own concluding submissions, as a subsidiary submission, that the Court adjudge and declare “(b) an interpretation of the Avena Judgment in accordance with paragraph 86 (a) of Mexico’s Response to the Written Observations of the United States”.
Mexico did not specify that the obligation of the United States under the Avena Judgment was directly binding upon its organs, subdivisions or
officials, although this might be inferred from the arguments it presented,
in particular in its further written explanations.
* *
42.    The Court notes that, having regard to all these elements, two views may be discerned as to whether or not there is a dispute within the
meaning of Article 60 of the Statute.
* *
43.    Be that as it may, the Court considers that there would be a further obstacle to granting the request of Mexico even if a dispute in the present case were ultimately found to exist within the meaning of Article 60 of the Statute. The Parties’ different stated perspectives on the existence of a dispute reveal also different contentions as to whether paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment envisages that a direct effect is to be given to the obligation contained therein.
44.    The Avena Judgment nowhere lays down or implies that the courts in the United States are required to give direct effect to paragraph 153 (9). The obligation laid down in that paragraph is indeed an obligation of result which clearly must be performed unconditionally; non-performance of it constitutes internationally wrongful conduct. However, the Judgment leaves it to the United States to choose the means of imple¬mentation, not excluding the introduction within a reasonable time of appropriate legislation, if deemed necessary under domestic constitu¬tional law. Nor moreover does the Avena Judgment prevent direct enforceability of the obligation in question, if such an effect is permitted by domestic law. In short, the question is not decided in the Court’s origi¬nal Judgment and thus cannot be submitted to it for interpretation under Article 60 of the Statute (Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 20 November 1950 in the Asylum Case (Colombia v. Peru), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1950, p. 402).
45.    Mexico’s argument, as described in paragraph 31 above, concerns the general question of the effects of a judgment of the Court in the domestic legal order of the States parties to the case in which the judg¬ment was delivered, not the “meaning or scope” of the Avena Judgment, as Article 60 of the Court’s Statute requires. By virtue of its general nature, the question underlying Mexico’s Request for interpretation is outside the jurisdiction specifically conferred upon the Court by Arti¬cle 60. Whether or not there is a dispute, it does not bear on the inter¬pretation of the Avena Judgment, in particular of paragraph 153 (9).
46.    For these reasons, the Court cannot accede to Mexico’s Request for interpretation.
47. Before proceeding to the additional requests of Mexico, the Court observes that considerations of domestic law which have so far hindered the implementation of the obligation incumbent upon the United States, cannot relieve it of its obligation. A choice of means was allowed to the United States in the implementation of its obligation and, failing success within a reasonable period of time through the means chosen, it must rapidly turn to alternative and effective means of attaining that result.
*
* *
48.    In the context of the proceedings instituted by the Application requesting interpretation, Mexico has presented three additional claims to the Court. First, Mexico asks the Court to adjudge and declare that the United States breached the Order indicating provisional measures of 16 July 2008 by executing Mr. Medellin on 5 August 2008 without having provided him with the review and reconsideration required under the Avena Judgment. Second, Mexico also regards that execution as having constituted a breach of the Avena Judgment itself. Third, Mexico requests the Court to order the United States to provide guarantees of non- repetition.
49.    The United States argues that the Court lacks jurisdiction to enter¬tain the supplemental requests made by Mexico. As regards Mexico’s claim concerning the alleged breach of the Order of 16 July 2008, the United States is of the opinion, first, that the lack of a basis of jurisdic¬tion for the Court to adjudicate Mexico’s Request for interpretation extends to this ancillary claim. Second, and in the alternative, the United States suggests that such a claim, in any event, goes beyond the jurisdic¬tion of the Court under Article 60 of the Statute. Similarly, the United States submits that there is no basis of jurisdiction for the Court to enter-tain Mexico’s claim relating to an alleged violation of the Avena Judg¬ment. Finally, the United States disputes the Court’s jurisdiction to order guarantees of non-repetition.
* *
50. Concerning Mexico’s claim that the United States breached the Court’s Order indicating provisional measures of 16 July 2008 by execut¬ing Mr. Medellin, the Court observes that in that Order it found that “it appears that the Court may, under Article 60 of the Statute, deal with the Request for interpretation” (Order, p. 326, para. 57). The Court then indicated in its Order that:
“The United States of America shall take all measures necessary to ensure that Messrs. Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas, Cesar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, Humberto Leal Garcia, and Roberto Moreno Ramos are not executed pending judgment on the Request for interpretation submitted by the United Mexican States, unless and until these five Mexican nationals receive review and reconsideration consistent with paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Court’s Judgment delivered on 31 March 2004 in the case concern¬ing Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America).” (Order, p. 331, para. 80 (II) (a).)
51.    There is no reason for the Court to seek any further basis of juris¬diction than Article 60 of the Statute to deal with this alleged breach of its Order indicating provisional measures issued in the same proceed¬ings. The Court’s competence under Article 60 necessarily entails its incidental jurisdiction to make findings about alleged breaches of the Order indicating provisional measures. That is still so even when the Court decides, upon examination of the Request for interpretation, as it has done in the present case, not to exercise its jurisdiction to proceed under Article 60.
52.    Mr. Medellin was executed in the State of Texas on 5 August 2008 after having unsuccessfully filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus and applications for stay of execution and after having been refused a stay of execution through the clemency process. Mr. Medellin was executed without being afforded the review and reconsideration provided for by paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment, contrary to what was directed by the Court in its Order indicating provisional measures of 16 July 2008.
53.    The Court thus finds that the United States did not discharge its obligation under the Court’s Order of 16 July 2008, in the case of Mr. Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas.
54.    The Court further notes that the Order of 16 July 2008 stipulated that five named persons were to be protected from execution until they received review and reconsideration or until the Court had rendered its Judgment upon Mexico’s Request for interpretation. The Court recalls that the obligation upon the United States not to execute Messrs. Cesar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, Humberto Leal Garcia, and Roberto Moreno Ramos pending review and reconsideration being afforded to them is fully intact by virtue of subparagraphs (4), (5), (6), (7) and (9) of paragraph 153 of the Avena Judgment itself. The Court further notes that the other persons named in the Avena Judgment are also to be afforded review and reconsideration in the terms there specified.
55. The Court finally recalls that, as the United States has itself acknowledged, until all of the Mexican nationals referred to in subpara¬graphs (4), (5), (6) and (7) of paragraph 153 of the Avena Judgment have had their convictions and sentences reviewed and reconsidered, by taking account of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment, the United States has not complied with the obligation incumbent upon it.
56.    As regards the additional claim by Mexico asking the Court to declare that the United States breached the Avena Judgment by executing Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas without having provided him review and reconsideration consistent with the terms of that Judgment, the Court notes that the only basis of jurisdiction relied upon for this claim in the present proceedings is Article 60 of the Statute, and that that Article does not allow it to consider possible violations of the Judgment which it is called upon to interpret.
57.    In view of the above, the Court finds that the additional claim by Mexico concerning alleged violations of the Avena Judgment must be dis¬missed.
58.    Lastly, Mexico requests the Court to order the United States to provide guarantees of non-repetition (point (2) (c) of Mexico’s sub¬missions) so that none of the Mexican nationals mentioned in the Avena Judgment is executed without having benefited from the review and reconsideration provided for by the operative part of that Judg¬ment.
59.    The United States disputes the jurisdiction of the Court to order it to furnish guarantees of non-repetition, principally inasmuch as the Court lacks jurisdiction under Article 60 of the Statute to entertain Mexico’s Request for interpretation or, in the alternative, since the Court cannot, in any event, order the provision of such guarantees within the context of interpretation proceedings.
60.    The Court finds it sufficient to reiterate that its Avena Judgment remains binding and that the United States continues to be under an obli¬gation fully to implement it.
61. For these reasons, THE COURT,
(1) By eleven votes to one,
Finds that the matters claimed by the United Mexican States to be in issue between the Parties, requiring an interpretation under Article 60 of the Statute, are not matters which have been decided by the Court in its
Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), including paragraph 153 (9), and thus cannot give rise to the interpretation requested by the United Mexican States;
IN FAVOUR: President Higgins; Vice-President Al-Khasawneh; Judges Ran- jeva, Koroma, Buergenthal, Owada, Tomka, Abraham, Keith, Bennouna, Skotnikov;
AGAINST: Judge Sepulveda-Amor;
(2)    Unanimously,
Finds that the United States of America has breached the obligation incumbent upon it under the Order indicating provisional measures of 16 July 2008, in the case of Mr. Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas;
(3)    By eleven votes to one,
Reaffirms the continuing binding character of the obligations of the United States of America under paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment and takes note of the undertakings given by the United States of America in these proceedings;
IN FAVOUR: President Higgins; Vice-President Al-Khasawneh; Judges Ran- jeva, Koroma, Buergenthal, Owada, Tomka, Keith, Sepulveda-Amor, Bennouna, Skotnikov;
AGAINST: Judge Abraham;
(4)    By eleven votes to one,
Declines, in these circumstances, the request of the United Mexican States for the Court to order the United States of America to provide guarantees of non-repetition;
IN FAVOUR: President Higgins; Vice-President Al-Khasawneh; Judges Ran- jeva, Koroma, Buergenthal, Owada, Tomka, Abraham, Keith, Bennouna, Skotnikov;
AGAINST: Judge Sepulveda-Amor;
(5)    By eleven votes to one,
Rejects all further submissions of the United Mexican States.
IN FAVOUR: President Higgins; Vice-President Al-Khasawneh; Judges Ran- jeva, Koroma, Buergenthal, Owada, Tomka, Abraham, Keith, Bennouna, Skotnikov;
AGAINST: Judge Sepulveda-Amor.
Done in English and in French, the English text being authoritative, at the Peace Palace, The Hague, this nineteenth day of January, two thousand and nine, in three copies, one of which will be placed in the archives of the Court
and the others transmitted to the Government of the United Mexican States and the Government of the United States of America, respectively.
(Signed) Rosalyn HIGGINS,
President. (Signed) Philippe COUVREUR, Registrar.
Judges KOROMA and ABRAHAM append declarations to the Judgment of the Court; Judge SEPULVEDA-AMOR appends a dissenting opinion to the Judgment of the Court.
(Initialled) R.H. (Initialled) Ph.C.
DECLARATION OF JUDGE KOROMA
Article 60 of the Statute — Existence of a dispute concerning whether review and reconsideration must be effective — Existence of a dispute as to whether obligation imposed by Avena paragraph 153 (9) is subject to domestic imple¬mentation — Court’s Judgment should be interpreted to mean that the subject- matter of these disputes is not addressed in Avena paragraph 153 (9) — Avena Judgment remains binding under Article 94 of the Charter.
While I have voted in favour of the operative part of the Judgment, in my view the basis on which the Court has reached its conclusion needs to be clarified. It is for this reason that I have decided to append this declaration, in order to elucidate my understanding as to the application of Article 60 of the Statute regarding this matter.
Article 60 provides: “The judgment is final and without appeal. In the event of dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgment, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party.”
According to its jurisprudence, the Court will apply Article 60 of the Statute when two parties hold opposite views with regard to the scope and meaning of a judgment. The Court has further elaborated on this by stating that the existence of a dispute under Article 60 is
“limited to whether the difference of views between the Parties which has manifested itself before the Court is ‘a difference of opinion between the Parties as to those points in the judgment in question which have been decided with binding force’, including ‘A difference of opinion as to whether a particular point has or has not been decided with binding force’ (Interpretation of Judgments Nos. 7 and 8 (Factory at Chorzow), Judgment No. 11, 1927, P.C.I.J., Series A, No. 13, pp. 11-12)” (Application for Revision and Inter¬pretation of the Judgment of 24 February 1982 in the Case concern¬ing the Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) (Tuni¬sia v. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1985, p. 218).
On the basis of these criteria, there are at least two differences between the Mexican and United States positions that could be consid¬ered a “dispute” under the terms of Article 60. First, Mexico appears to take the position that the United States has only met its obligations under Avena if its efforts to assure review and reconsideration are effec¬tive; whereas the United States believes that those efforts are to be pri¬oritized among the “many other pressing priorities” of government. Second, Mexico argues that the obligation of result imposed by Avena paragraph 153 (9) automatically and directly “reach[es] all organs, includ¬ing the federal and state judiciaries” ; whereas the United States believes that that obligation is subject to domestic implementation according to domestic law. This is, indeed, very similar to the dispute identified by the Permanent Court of International Justice in the Interpretation of Judg¬ments Nos. 7 and 8 (Factory at Chorzow) (Judgment No. 11, 1927, P.C.I.J., Series A, No. 13, pp. 9-15 (finding that a dispute as to interpre¬tation did exist by virtue of the States’ differing views regarding the role of Polish law in implementing Judgments Nos. 7 and 8 of the Permanent Court)).
The Court in this Judgment states in paragraph 43 that:
“The Parties’ different stated perspectives on the existence of a dispute reveal also different contentions as to whether paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment envisages that a direct effect is to be given to the obligation contained therein.”
In my view, this paragraph is not entirely clear. It should have been clearly stated that the Request for interpretation is not admissible because the issues in dispute are not within the scope of paragraph 153 (9) of that Judgment, which requires the United States “to provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and sen¬tences of the Mexican nationals” mentioned therein. In this regard, the Court should have concluded that paragraph 153 (9) does not address whether review and reconsideration should lead to a specific result; and that paragraph 153 (9) also does not directly address whether the obliga¬tion of result it imposes directly reaches all organs, including federal and state judiciaries, or whether it is subject to domestic implementation according to domestic law. It is because neither of these points is clearly within the scope of paragraph 153 (9) that I have voted in favour of the operative paragraph.
On the other hand, applying the criteria stated above and for con¬sistency of jurisprudence, the Court could have found the request for interpretation admissible on the basis of either of the two disputes iden¬tified above. With respect to the first, concerning whether efforts to assure review and reconsideration must be effective, the Court’s jurispru¬dence provides that the subject of dispute may also relate to the Court’s reasoning to the extent that that reasoning is “inseparable from the operative part” (Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 11 June 1998 in the Case concerning the Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria (Cameroon v. Nigeria), Preliminary
Objections (Nigeria v. Cameroon), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1999 (I), p. 35, para. 10). Taking this principle into account, the Court could very well have found the request for interpretation admissible as to this dis¬pute (see Avena, p. 65, para. 138 (emphasizing that review and reconsid¬eration must be “effective”)).
Likewise, with regard to the second dispute concerning the question of domestic implementation, the Court could have found this issue to lie within the scope of paragraph 153 (9), because the phrase “by means of its own choosing” could be considered to address the issue of domestic implementation. The Court therefore could have found Mexico’s Request for interpretation admissible and proceeded to interpret that paragraph, examining the relatively narrow question of whether paragraph 153 (9) of Avena creates a direct obligation on state and local officials in the United States to provide review and reconsideration, or whether it creates an international obligation which is subject to domestic implementation in the United States according to United States law.
Furthermore, in interpreting the first dispute, the Court could have agreed that the efforts to carry out review and reconsideration must be effective in order to be in compliance with Avena. Indeed, even without reaching the interpretation, the Court does recall in its Judgment that, contrary to what has at times been implied by the United States,
“the United States itself acknowledged, until all of the Mexican nationals referred to in subparagraphs (4), (5), (6) and (7) of para¬graph 153 of the Avena Judgment have had their convictions and sentences reviewed and reconsidered, by taking account of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment, the United States has not complied with the obligation incumbent upon it” (para. 55).
The Court has found that the obligation will only be met when the United States, by means of its own choosing, has in fact carried out review and reconsideration of the convictions at issue in Avena, and that the United States has not yet met its obligations under the Judgment.
With regard to the second dispute, the Court could have reached the conclusion that the obligation of result imposed by paragraph 153 (9) is subject to domestic implementation, as the Court had indicated that the United States should carry out review and reconsideration “by means of its own choosing”. This necessarily implies that the United States has a choice of means as to how to implement its obligation under the Judg¬ment.
In the light of the above considerations, in this case where the question of whether a dispute exists regarding the scope and meaning of paragraph 153 (9) of Avena, and based on the Court’s jurisprudence, the Court could have found a dispute to exist between the Parties. However, the Court has found that the Application itself is not predicated on a matter which it had previously decided. Be that as it may, the Judgment, by reiterating the obligation of the Respondent in respect of the indivi¬duals named in Avena, has upheld the object and purpose of Article 60 of the Statute. First, as stated clearly at the conclusion of the Judgment, the “Avena Judgment remains binding and … the United States continues to be under an obligation fully to implement it” (para. 60). Second, as stated at paragraph 55 of the Judgment and mentioned above, the United States will not have complied with the obligation incumbent upon it under Avena until all the Mexican nationals mentioned therein “have had their convictions and sentences reviewed and reconsidered, by taking account of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment”.
11. Thus, while the Court may not be in a position to interpret its Avena Judgment, the binding force of that Judgment remains, and cer¬tain obligations in that Judgment have not yet been met. Under Arti¬cle 94 of the Charter — and in this case also fundamental principles of human rights — international law demands nothing less than the full and timely compliance with the Avena Judgment for all the Mexican nation¬als mentioned therein.
(Signed) Abdul G. KOROMA.
DECLARATION DE M. LE JUGE ABRAHAM
J’ai vote en faveur de tous les points du dispositif du present arret, sauf un.
Il s’agit du point 3), a propos duquel j’ai du, a mon grand regret, me singulariser, en ne rejoignant pas l’ensemble de mes collegues.
Je crois devoir expliquer pourquoi, en quelques lignes.
Dans le point 3) du dispositif, la Cour
«[r]eaffirme que les obligations enoncees au point 9) du paragra- phe 153 de l’arret Avena continuent de s’imposer aux Etats-Unis d’Amerique et prend acte des engagements pris par les Etats-Unis d’Amerique en la presente instance».
Naturellement, je ne conteste ni le bien-fonde de la premiere de ces deux propositions ni l’interet de la seconde.
Que les obligations decoulant du point 9) du dispositif de l’arret Avena, a savoir l’obligation d’assurer le reexamen et la revision des condamna- tions prononcees a l’egard de chacun des cinquante et un ressortissants mexicains vises par l’arret, continuent de s’imposer aux Etats-Unis, voila qui est evident et qui n’a d’ailleurs pas fait l’objet de la moindre contesta¬tion entre les Parties. Si l’on met a part le cas de Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas, dont l’execution capitale rend a present sans objet cette obligation en ce qui le concerne, il est clair que pour les autres condamnes les Etats- Unis restent tenus de se conformer a l’arret de la Cour, pour autant qu’ils ne s’y seraient pas deja conformes dans le cas de certains d’entre eux, question que la Cour n’etait pas appelee a trancher et n’a pas entendu trancher. Par ailleurs, il est exact que les Etats-Unis, par la voix de leurs representants qualifies devant la Cour, ont reaffirme leur engagement a tout mettre en reuvre pour que ceux des condamnes qui n’ont pas encore reiju la «reparation appropriee» definie au point 9) du dispositif de l’arret Avena en beneficient dans les meilleurs delais, et il n’y a pas de doute que la Cour ne peut qu’en prendre note avec interet.
Ce n’est donc pas parce que je serais en desaccord avec le contenu des propositions qui figurent au point 3) que j’ai vote contre. C’est parce que ces enonces outrepassent manifestement les limites de la competence que la Cour tient de l’article 60 du Statut, et qu’elle exerce, ou est supposee exercer, en la presente espece. Cette competence a pour seul objet l’inter- pretation de l’arret precedemment rendu, et ne saurait englober quelque question que ce soit se rapportant a l’execution dudit arret, soit pour le passe, soit pour l’avenir.
C’est d’ailleurs bien ce que dit la Cour lorsqu’elle rejette la demande du Mexique tendant a ce qu’elle constate que les Etats-Unis ont viole l’arret
Avena en executant Medellin. Au paragraphe 56, l’arret rappelle les limites de la competence que l’article 60 confere a la Cour et en deduit que celle-ci ne saurait accueillir ce chef de conclusions. Pourtant, que les Etats-Unis aient viole l’arret Avena par le comportement en cause peut se deduire logiquement du point 2) du dispositif, qui constate que l’execu¬tion de Medellin a viole l’ordonnance de la Cour du 16 juillet 2008 por- tant mesures conservatoires. La Cour a accepte de faire droit a la demande du Mexique tendant a ce qu’elle constate la violation de son ordonnance, car, celle-ci ayant ete rendue «dans le cadre de la meme instance» (en interpretation), le titre de competence que met en reuvre la Cour en l’espece englobe, incidemment, la question du respect des mesures conser-vatoires ordonnees par elle (par. 51). En revanche, la Cour refuse, a bon droit, d’accueillir la demande tendant a ce qu’elle constate que le meme comportement (l’execution de Medellin) constitue egalement une viola¬tion de l’arret Avena — alors meme que logiquement les deux proposi¬tions ne peuvent etre que simultanement vraies — parce que cette demande ne saurait se rattacher, ni directement ni incidemment, a la competence qu’elle tient de l’article 60.
Le meme raisonnement aurait du conduire la Cour a s’abstenir d’intro- duire dans le dispositif de l’arret des constatations — aussi indiscutables soient-elles — telles que celles qui figurent au point 3).
Une chose est de faire figurer dans les motifs d’un arret des remarques, constatations ou propositions juridiquement superfetatoires et pouvant apparaitre comme depassant les strictes limites de la competence qu’exerce la Cour. Ce n’est jamais de tres bonne methode, mais il se peut que la Cour trouve parfois des raisons d’ordre pedagogique de proceder ainsi. Cela peut etre acceptable, a condition que ce soit fait avec moderation et discernement (comme ici, par exemple, aux paragraphes 54 et 55).
Autre chose, en tout cas, est de faire figurer dans le dispositif d’un arret des constatations outrepassant les limites de la competence que la Cour met en reuvre. Car, alors que ceux des motifs qui presentent un caractere surabondant sont depourvus de l’autorite de la chose jugee, tout ce qui figure dans le dispositif d’un arret est en principe res judicata. Il peut y avoir des motifs surabondants, il ne devrait pas y avoir de mention sura- bondante dans un dispositif. Par suite, tout ce qui figure au dispositif doit se tenir strictement dans les limites de la competence de la Cour.
Tel n’est pas le cas du point 3). La Cour n’y repond aucunement a une demande d’interpretation de l’arret Avena, aucune des Parties n’ayant jamais evoque la moindre contestation relative aux effets dans le temps dudit arret, qui put appeler une interpretation.
En realite, le point 3) apparait plutot comme une sorte de preambule au point 4), par lequel la Cour rejette la demande mexicaine tendant a ce que soient exigees des Etats-Unis des garanties de non-repetition (de la violation de l’arret Avena). C’est a la lumiere des constatations du point 3) («dans ces conditions») que la Cour rejette cette demande au point suivant.
Mais, a mon avis, ce qui justifie le rejet du chef de conclusions que la
Cour ecarte, a juste titre, au point 4) du dispositif, ce n’est pas que les Etats-Unis aient pris l’engagement de se conformer pleinement, desor- mais, a l’arret Avena, c’est que ce chef de conclusions est lui-meme etran- ger a la competence decoulant de l’article 60 du Statut, la seule invoquee en l’espece par le Mexique.
Ayant vote contre le point 3), pour les raisons que je viens d’exposer, je n’ai cependant pas cru devoir voter aussi contre le point 4), bien qu’il comporte a mes yeux un renvoi facheux au point precedent; l’essentiel etant, pour moi, qu’il rejette la demande que la Cour ne pouvait accueillir.
J’ajouterai, pour conclure, que les observations qui precedent ne met- tent nullement en cause mon adhesion a l’essentiel de l’arret que la Cour vient de rendre et qui se trouve, selon moi, aux paragraphes 29 a 46 des motifs, et au point 1) du dispositif.
(Signe) Ronny ABRAHAM.
DISSENTING OPINION OF JUDGE SEPULVEDA-AMOR
Agreement with most of the reasoning and most of the decisions — Regret that Court did not settle issues incontrovertibly characterized by a degree of opacity — Implicit recognition by the Court that a dispute exists — Interpre¬tation of obligation of result as one which requires specific outcome and within reasonable period of time — Failing success, need for alternative and effective means, such as legislative action — Medellin was executed without the required review and reconsideration — The Court finds that the United States has breached its obligations — But there is no determination of the legal conse¬quences flowing from this breach — The Avena Judgment remains binding.
Article 36 confers individual rights — Mexico and the United States hold dif¬ferent views — The procedural default rule has not been revised — Non-applica¬tion ofprocedural default rule is required to allow review and reconsideration to become operative — Binding force of the Judgment — United States Supreme Court’s ruling is at odds with the one provided by Mexico and by the United States — The Court should have settled the issue raised by the conflicting inter¬pretations — Review and reconsideration received by only one Mexican national out of 51 listed in the Avena Judgment — The obligation falls upon all state and federal authorities — Importance of role played by the judicial system, espe-cially the United States Supreme Court — Mexico has established the existence of a dispute — State responsibility — It engages the action of the competent organs and authorities acting in that State — LaGrand found that a United States Governor is under the obligation to act in conformity with United States undertakings — In the present case, all competent organs and all constituent subdivisions must comply with mandated review and reconsideration, as Mexico claims — Interpretation of the dispute by the Court would have rendered an invaluable construction to the clarification of rules and its enforcement.
1.    I am in agreement with most of the reasoning of the Court in the present Judgment, as well as with most of the decisions expressed in the operative clause of the Judgment. It is with regret that I am unable to join the Court in some of its conclusions. My regret stems not only from my disagreement with some of these views, but also from my belief that the Court has missed a splendid opportunity to settle issues calling for interpretation and to construe the meaning or scope of the Avena Judg¬ment in certain respects incontrovertibly characterized by a degree of opacity.
2.    Before I embark on the process of setting out and explaining my points of disagreement with the Judgment, I believe it useful to revisit some of the important considerations that the Court has found worthy of stating; to a large extent, these follow from an interpretation of the
Avena Judgment. In the present Judgment, the Court has clearly estab¬lished what is meant by an obligation of result: it is “an obligation which requires a specific outcome” (Judgment, paragraph 27). It is clear that an obligation falls upon the United States to provide the Mexican nationals named in the Avena Judgment who remain on death row with review and reconsideration consistent with paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment. But then the Court construes the scope of the obliga¬tion:
“The Court observes that this obligation of result is one which must be met within a reasonable period of time. Even serious efforts of the United States, should they fall short of providing review and reconsideration consistent with paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment, would not be regarded as fulfilling this obligation of result.” (Para. 27; emphasis added.)
3.    If the obligation of result is one which “must be met within a rea¬sonable period of time”, then there has been a failure by the United States to comply with it. According to Mexico, since March 2004, when the Avena Judgment was issued,
“at least 33 of the 51 Mexican nationals named in the Court’s Judg¬ment have sought review and reconsideration in United States state and federal courts.
To date, only one of these nationals — Osbaldo Torres Aguil- era — has received review and reconsideration consistent with this Court’s mandate. We should also mention, however, that the State of Arkansas agreed to reduce Mr. Rafael Camargo Ojeda’s death sentence to life imprisonment in exchange for his agreement to waive his right to review and reconsideration under the Avena Judgment. All other efforts to enforce the Avena Judgment have failed.” (CR 2008/14, p. 20, paras. 2 and 3 (Babcock).)
Almost five years have elapsed since the Avena Judgment was handed down. Since, as the Court considers, time is of the essence and the actual compliance performance has been poor, to say the least, the specific out¬come associated with the obligation of result cannot be regarded as having been brought about by the United States.
4.    A careful reading of the Court’s Judgment in the present case sug¬gests an implicit recognition by the Court that Mexico and the United States have in fact shown themselves as holding opposing views in regard to the meaning and scope of the Avena Judgment. It was stated in the Order indicating provisional measures, in paragraph 55, that
“while it seems both Parties regard paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment as an international obligation of result, the Parties none¬theless apparently hold different views as to the meaning and scope of that obligation of result, namely, whether that understanding is shared by all United States federal and state authorities and whether that obligation falls upon those authorities” (Order, p. 326, para. 55).
5.    Although the Court reaches the conclusion that the matters claimed by Mexico as requiring an interpretation are not matters decided by the Court in its Avena Judgment and thus cannot give rise to the interpreta¬tion requested by Mexico (Judgment, operative clause, paragraph 59 (1)), the Court accepts that “[o]n the one hand, it could be said that a variety of factors suggest that there is a difference of perception that would con¬stitute a dispute under Article 60 of the Statute” (ibid., paragraph 31). And then, after reviewing some of Mexico’s contentions, the Court “observes that these elements could suggest a dispute between the Parties within the sense of Article 60 of the Statute” (ibid., paragraph 35). Addi¬tionally, the Court indicates — in a paragraph to be examined later, for it gives rise to divergent interpretations — that
“Mexico did not specify that the obligation of the United States under the Avena Judgment was directly binding upon its organs, subdivisions or officials, although this might be inferred from the arguments it presented, in particular in its further written explana¬tions.” (Ibid., paragraph 41; emphasis added.)
6.    The fact is that the Judgment comes close to recognizing that there is a “dispute”, “contestation”, or “desacuerdo”, as the term is translated in the Spanish version of Article 60 of the Statute. Whether or not Mexico complied with Article 98, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court, which states that “the precise point or points in dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgment shall be indicated”, is a question requiring further consideration, which it will receive later in this dissenting opinion.
7.    In the present Judgment, the Court further construes the meaning and scope of the Avena Judgment when it states that
“considerations of domestic law which have so far hindered the imple-mentation of the obligation incumbent upon the United States, can¬not relieve it of its obligation. A choice of means was allowed to the United States in the implementation of its obligation and, failing success within a reasonable period of time through the means chosen, it must rapidly turn to alternative and effective means of attaining that result.” (Ibid., paragraph 47; emphasis added.)
As the United States Supreme Court has ruled, the alternative and effec¬tive means rapidly to implement the obligation of result incumbent on the United States is through legislative action: “The responsibility for transforming an international obligation arising from a non-self-executing treaty into domestic law falls to Congress” (Medellin v. Texas, 128 S. Ct. 1346, 1368 (2008), attached as Annex B, p. 60, of Mexico’s Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the Case concern¬ing Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) (Mexico v. United States of America)).
8.    The means available to the United States is essentially legislative action, preferably at the federal level, quickly to attain effective compli¬ance with the obligation. As the Permanent Court of International Jus¬tice found
“a State which has contracted valid international obligations is bound to make in its legislation such modifications as may be nec¬essary to ensure the fulfillment of the obligations undertaken” (Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations, Advisory Opinion, 1925, P.C.I.J., Series B, No. 10, p. 20).
The Court has repeatedly affirmed in its jurisprudence that a State can¬not invoke its domestic law to justify its failure to perform an interna¬tional legal obligation. In taking the action required of it under the Avena Judgment, the United States “cannot adduce as against another State its own Constitution with a view to evading obligations incumbent upon it under international law or treaties in force” (Treatment of Polish Nation¬als and Other Persons of Polish Origin or Speech in the Danzig Territory, Advisory Opinion, 1932, P.C.I.J., Series A/B, No. 44, p. 24).
9.    The Court has clearly established that Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas
“was executed without being afforded the review and reconsidera¬tion provided for by paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Avena Judgment, contrary to what was directed by the Court in its Order indicating provisional measures of 16 July 2008” (Judgment, paragraph 52).
In the operative clause of the Judgment, the Court has found unani¬mously that the United States “has breached the obligation incumbent upon it” under the Court’s Order (ibid., paragraph 61 (2)). The Court leaves no doubt in its decision that the obligation upon the United States not to execute the other four Mexican nationals named in the Order of 16 July 2008 “pending review and reconsideration being afforded to them is fully intact by virtue” of the Avena Judgment itself (ibid., para¬graph 54). In the operative clause of the Judgment, the Court reaffirms “the continuing binding character of the obligations of the United States of America under paragraph 153 (9) of the Avena Judgment” (ibid., para¬graph 61 (3)).
10.    The Court has found that the United States is in breach of its obli¬gations for having executed Mr. Medellin in violation of the Order of 16 July 2008. What is missing from the present Judgment is a determina¬tion of the legal consequences which flow from the serious failure by the United States to comply with the Order and the Avena Judgment.
11.    The Court, in its Order of 16 July 2008, placed clear emphasis on certain commitments undertaken by the United States. The Court took note of the following understandings and pledges voiced by the Agent of the United States:
“the United States has recognized that, were any of the Mexican nationals named in the request for the indication of provisional measures to be executed without the necessary review and reconsid¬eration required under the Avena Judgment, that would constitute a violation of United States obligations under international law … in particular, the Agent of the United States declared before the Court that ‘[t]o carry out Mr. Medellin’s sentence without affording him the necessary review and reconsideration obviously would be incon¬sistent with the Avena Judgment’;
the United States has recognized that ‘it is responsible under inter¬national law, for the actions of its political sub-divisions’, including ‘federal, state, and local officials’, and that its own international responsibility would be engaged if, as a result of acts or omissions by any of those political subdivisions, the United States was unable to respect its international obligations under the Avena Judgment… in particular, the Agent of the United States acknowledged before the Court that ‘the United States would be responsible, clearly, under the principle of State responsibility for the internationally wrongful actions of [state] officials'” (Order of 16 July 2008, pp. 330-331, paras. 76-77).
12.    On 5 August 2008, Mr. Medellin was executed in the State of Texas without having been afforded the required review and reconsidera¬tion, and after having unsuccessfully filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus and applications for stay of execution and having been refused a stay of execution through the clemency process, as the Judg¬ment indicates in paragraph 52. Yet the Court has not found it necessary even to mention in the present Judgment the commitments assumed by the Agent of the United States through his recognition: that Mr. Medel¬lin’s execution would constitute a violation of an international obliga¬tion; that it would be inconsistent with the Avena Judgment; that the United States was responsible under international law for the actions of its political subdivisions; and that the responsibility of the United States would be engaged, under the principles of State responsibility, for the internationally wrongful acts of federal, state and local officials.
13.    It is to be deeply regretted that the Court has decided not to pass judgment on a failure by the United States to discharge an international obligation. It is difficult to understand and accept this forbearance, espe¬cially when the United States Agent himself has recognized that a breach of its international obligations entails the responsibility of the State he represents. By refraining from attributing any legal significance to a vio¬lation of the Avena Judgment and of the Order of 16 July 2008, the Court has let pass an opportunity to further the development of the law of State responsibility and has ignored the need to adjudge the consequences of the internationally wrongful acts of a State and to determine the remedial action required in such circumstances.
14. In spite of this unexplained legal omission, the Court feels the need to “reiterate that its Avena Judgment remains binding and that the United States continues to be under an obligation fully to implement it” (Judgment, paragraph 60). It is to be hoped that the United States Con¬gress will enact legislation so as to comply with the decision of the Court. In the absence of federal legislation, the obligations stipulated in the Avena Judgment will become a mere abstraction, devoid of any legal sub¬stance. In the words of the United States Supreme Court,
“The Avena judgment creates an international law obligation on the part of the United States, but it is not automatically binding domestic law because none of the relevant treaty sources — the Optional Protocol, the U.N. Charter, or the ICJ Statute — creates binding federal law in the absence of implementing legislation and no such legislation has been enacted.” (Medellin v. Texas, 128 S. Ct. 1346 (2008), Syllabus; attached as Annex B to the Appli¬cation, p. 44.)
I. DISPUTE/CONTESTATION/DESACUERDO
15.    In order properly to ascertain whether there is a “dispute”/”con- testation”/”desacuerdo” for purposes of Article 60 of the Statute, it is necessary to consider the wider perspective of the litigation between the United States and Mexico. The legal proceedings have involved federal and state authorities, particularly the Executive branches of government at the federal and state levels, as well as federal and state courts.
16.    The Avena Judgment clearly applies broadly to all Mexican nation¬als facing severe penalties or prolonged incarceration. Thus the Judgment includes not only the 51 Mexican nationals mentioned therein but also Mexican nationals sentenced to “severe penalties” in the future. The Court found, unanimously, that
“should Mexican nationals nonetheless be sentenced to severe pen¬alties, without their rights under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Convention having been respected, the United States of America shall provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsidera¬tion of the conviction and sentence, so as to allow full weight to be given to the violation of the rights set forth in the Convention” (Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2004 (I), p. 73, para. 153 (11)).
17. On the basis of this finding of the Court, which is part of the operative clause of the Judgment, it is perfectly legitimate to examine the opposing views propounded to the United States Supreme Court in the Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon case, involving a Mexican national sentenced to more than 20 years of impriso