THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Arab Emirates asserted Monday that the U.N.’s highest court does not have jurisdiction in a case brought by Qatar alleging “discrimination against Qatar and Qatari citizens” amid a boycott by four Arab nations.
Lawyers for the UAE want the International Court of Justice’s judges to throw out the case for lack of jurisdiction. Lawyers for Qatar are due to respond on Wednesday.
UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia cut ties to Qatar on June 5, 2017, and launched an economic boycott, stopping Qatar Airways flights from using their airspace, closing off the small country’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia and blocking its ships from using their ports.
They say the crisis stems from Qatar’s support for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha.
Qatar went to the world court in 2018 arguing the boycott breached the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
But Daniel Bethlehem, a lawyer representing UAE, argued the court does not have jurisdiction because the terms of the convention do not cover the dispute between UAE and Qatar and that the disagreement already is being addressed at conciliation hearings between the two countries.
The court is holding hearings on UAE’s preliminary objections to the court’s jurisdiction over four days ending next Monday. Lawyers and representatives are taking part via video links due to coronavirus restrictions. Judges are likely to take weeks or months to issue a ruling on whether the case can go ahead in full.