Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced on Wednesday a move to submit a dispute with Qatar regarding their sovereign airspace to the International Court of Justice.
A Saudi Press Agency statement said that the file on the matter was being considered by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), however the four states now believe the ICAO “was not competent to consider that dispute.”
The full statement reads:
During a regular session, the ICAO Council considered two requests submitted by Qatar to the Council requesting the activation of Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago 1944) on the Settlement of Dispute on the interpretation and application of the Chicago Convention and its annexes with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Arab Republic of Egypt, especially the closure of the sovereign airspace of the four Arab countries to of the aircraft registered in the State of Qatar, as well as preventing them from landing and taking off from the airports of the four Arab countries as well as activation of the second item of Article II concerning the settlement of the dispute over the interpretation and application of the "International Transit Services Agreement" against the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Arab Republic of Egypt.
This action by the four countries to submit the case to the International Court of Justice comes in light of the decision of the ICAO Council to grant Qatar the opportunity to hear its demands, which did not include the support of these demands or to call upon the four countries to take any action.
The four States decided to object to this decision because they believe that the Organization has fully exercised its technical competence through the cooperation of the four states with the organization's Regional Office in Cairo in developing international alternative airlines for Qatari aircraft in international airspace, taking into account the highest standards of air safety and security in accordance with the Emergency Plan which was discussed at the session of the Council of the Organization in the presence of the ministers concerned in the five States parties to this dispute at the meeting of the Council of the Organization held on 31 July 2017 as stated in the organization's statement at the time.
In the view of the four countries, the crux of the issue is that Qatar is constantly and severely violating all the sovereign rights of the four countries, including interference in its internal affairs and supporting terrorism, making this conflict primarily a security policy, and the acceptance by the organization's' council of the study of the Qatari's claims is therefore illegal as it departs from the technical competence of the organization.
The four States will object to the ICAO decision by appealing to the International Court of Justice under the two above-mentioned agreements.
In view of the decision of the four States to appeal the ICAO decision before the International Court of Justice, the ICAO will cease to consider the Qatari claims until the judgment of the International Court of Justice has been issued and coincides with the continued exercise by the four States of their sovereign right to close the airspace to Qatari aircraft under international law.
The four States intend to appeal to the court in this regard to decide that the decision of the Council of the Organization has violated international law, including the two agreements mentioned above.
It should be noted that the ruling when it is issued will determine the validity of the decision of ICAO on enabling Qatar to submit the two complaints, and does not in any way accept the allegations of Qatar or the imposition of opening the airspace or anything else that detracts from the sovereign rights of the four countries or upload any legal consequences because the rule will not address the substance of the dispute between the four countries and Qatar, and therefore international law will continue to support the four countries in the continued closure of the regional airspace in front of the Qatari aircraft and therefore nothing will change in this case.
In spite of this objection, the four States will continue their fruitful cooperation with the organization and its member states in all areas related to the organization's competence and will not affect the strength of its relations with the organization and its members and the continued constructive cooperation with them.
It should be noted that the periodic reports of general secretariat of the organization's council confirm that all technical procedures for the contingency plan have been implemented and that air navigation over international waters in the Gulf is safe in accordance with the standard rules and recommendations issued by the ICAO.
The appeals and hearings of the International Court of Justice are expected to take a long time before a decision is made, and accordingly the four States will continue to close their regional airspace to Qatari aircraft in order to preserve their national security and sovereign right guaranteed by international law.