Halls of Justice

Ryan M. Irwin

in Gordian Knot

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199855612
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979882 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in International History

Halls of Justice

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This chapter looks at climax of the 1960s apartheid debate. It focuses on the stakes of a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that pitted the African Group against Pretoria. Beneath the case’s surface—which revolved ostensibly around the question of whether South Africa’s World War I-era Mandate over South West Africa was still legitimate—lay a deeper debate about the meaning of the postcolonial Nation. For both African and Afrikaner nationalists, the court case was a way to legitimize their claims about nationhood—and to force Washington to pick a side in the postcolonial apartheid debate. Although opposed to U.N. action through the General Assembly, U.S. policymakers recognized that America’s status as a “postimperia”’ superpower rested partly on the credibility and authority of the ICJ. In 1966 the Court rejected the African Group’s case against South Africa, dealing African nationalists with a major blow.

Keywords: International Court of Justice; United Nations; sanctions; South West Africa; Namibia; mandate system; Ernest Gross; international law

Chapter.  11025 words. 

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