The interim government of Honduras has filed a complaint against Brazil in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Court announced on October 29. The complaint arises from events surrounding the surprise return to Honduras of Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president, who entered the country on September 21 and took refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Specifically, Honduras charges that Mr. Zelaya and an unknown number of other Honduran citizens have been using the Embassy as a “platform for political propaganda” with the complicity of Embassy staff and thereby “threatening the peace and internal public order of Honduras.” Honduras has requested declaratory and injunctive relief from the ICJ.
The legal bases of Honduras’s complaint are Article 2 (7) of the UN Charter, which reserves to member states matters which are “essentially within [their] domestic jurisdiction,” and the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. As a practical matter, Honduras’s complaint is only one element of a broader political and diplomatic offensive aimed at preventing Mr. Zelaya from returning to power before the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for November 29. It is unclear whether the ICJ will agree to hear the complaint, which was filed by an interim administration that many international observers consider illegitimate. Current efforts toward national reconciliation may also determine whether the case goes forward.
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