After Rebuffing World Court, U.S. Calls on Moscow to Accept Rulings

Associated Press

The Reagan Administration, which rejects World Court jurisdiction in its dispute with Nicaragua, has proposed to the Soviet Union that it accept decisions of the world body in interpretations of a host of international treaties, a U.S. official said today.

Some of the decisions deal with such technical subjects as patents and others with diplomatic privileges. The United States is a party to most of the treaties but the Soviets over the years have registered “reservations” that exempt them from the effects of many of the treaties, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. proposals, which also involve greater use of the court, were conveyed to Moscow during the summer in response to hints from Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and other Soviet officials in U.N. speeches that they were prepared to consider changes.

The United States is coordinating its approach with a number of Western allies, the official said. He declined to provide further details, saying it was “a sensitive subject.”


But the official said “a host of multilateral treaties” were involved.

Two years ago, in an unprecedented move, the Reagan Administration rejected the court’s jurisdiction in a dispute with Nicaragua.

The Marxist government in Managua had sued the United States before the court for mining its harbors and aiding Nicaraguan rebels.

State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley stressed Thursday that “it’s our view that issues involving the use of force and national security do not belong in the International Court of Justice.”


Oakley’s statement indicated the Administration held to the view developed by Abraham D. Sofaer, a former federal judge who is the State Department chief legal counsel.

The New York Times quoted Sofaer on Thursday as saying the United States had responded “in a constructive way” to Gorbachev’s initiative.

Sofaer said the United States had suggested that the World Court be permitted to arbitrate a list of specific disputes between Washington and Moscow and that there be an agreement in advance to accept its verdict, the newspaper reported.

If accepted by Moscow and the U.S. Senate, the article said, the U.S. proposals would bind both nations to World Court verdicts in disputes over certain treaties.

Oakley said “the U.S. has made a proposal on the issue of greater use of the (World Court) to the Soviets this summer which is wholly consistent with this Administration’s view of the appropriate role of the Court to resolve international disputes.”