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US withdraws from world court protocol on consular access after unfavorable ruling

[JURIST] The US State Department announced Wednesday that the United States has withdrawn from a protocol giving the International Court of Justice [official website] at the Hague authority to decide disputes between states arising from interpretation of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations [UN text], recognizing the right of arrested foreign nationals to get help from their consulates abroad. The withdrawal follows an ICJ ruling against the United States [ruling and case materials] last year in a case involving the consular rights of 51 Mexicans on death row in US jails. State Department spokesperson Darla Jordan was quoted in press reports as saying "We are protecting against future International Court of Justice judgments that might similarly interfere in ways we did not anticipate when we joined the optional protocol." Last week President Bush directed state courts to fulfill US obligations under international law and review the cases affected by the ruling [JURIST report]. Despite the withdrawal, the State Department says that the US remains bound by the Vienna Convention itself. The US withdrew from the ICJ's general jurisdiction in 1986 after it delivered an unfavorable ruling on the mining of Nicaragua's harbors, but it still accepts the court's specific jurisdiction under approximately 70 international treaties. AP has more.

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