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14 November 1979

Accade Oggi

One of the most interesting cases in contemporary international law refers to the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran in the late 1970s. We are talking about Revolutions, international mediation, diplomatic staff, judgments of the International Court of Justice ... That's right, today’s #accadeoggi goes back in space and time to Tehran, in November 1979, when the famous hostage crisis began.

In the context of the Islamic Iranian Revolution of Khomeini which, from a monarchical regime, led the country to acquire the form of a Shiite Islamic republic, the US was considered the number one enemy of the government of Tehran (frequent appellations such as "Great Satan" or "Enemies of Islam").
The situation degenerated when on November 4, 1979, more than 500 Islamic students assaulted the American embassy in the capital by taking the diplomatic and consular staff inside it as a hostage.
The news was immediately spread and broadcasted all around the world causing a lot of sensation and worry.

In these dynamics, the International Court of Justice (the main judicial organ of the United Nations) intervened with its jurisprudence, which considered the government of Tehran guilty of having broken many rules of international law: at first the omission of the necessary measures to protect the embassy, ​​secondly the direct responsibility of Iran in the crisis for not having denounced nor prevented but rather made its own the actions of Islamic students towards the USA.
The manifest policy announced by the Ayatollah Khomeini of maintaining the occupation of the embassy and the detention of the hostages in order to exert pressure on the United States Government, had the effect of radically transforming the legal nature of the situation, thus making it assume all continued occupation of the embassy and the prolonged detention of the hostages as state acts.

Thus began a long process of redemption with which the Islamic revolutionaries promised the release of the hostages only when the United States would have released and returned to its land the exiled Shah of Iran (at that time on US territory for medical reasons ).

Although the hostage crisis lasted more than a year (November 1979 - January 1981), today particularly marks the anniversary of the 12170 executive order with which the US President Jimmy Carter, in response to the Iranian offensive, decided to freeze around 12 billion of assets on US territory, including bank deposits.
However, considering the fallacious nature of all attempts at a diplomatic approach, the United States attempted with a military operation (named Eagle Claw) to release the hostages using force, eventually failing and having the only result of great distrust and loss of consensus towards President Carter.

The crisis was finally resolved thanks to the mediation of Algeria which in 1980 proposed to the parties the creation of the US-Iran Complaints Court and in January 1981 helped signing the peace of Algiers.


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  • L'Autore

    Giulia Geneletti

    Laureata con lode in Scienze Politiche presso l'Università degli Studi di Milano, curiosa, intraprendente e sempre motivata da nuove avventure ed esperienze. Ha svolto diverse esperienze lavorative, formative e di volontariato in Italia e all'estero. Si interessa di politiche pubbliche, relazioni internazionali, comunicazione politica, affari europei e di consulenza.
    Giulia è entrata nella community di Mondo Internazionale nel Giugno 2019 ed ha da allora ricoperto diversi ruoli sia di redazione che di direzione. Ad oggi è Direttore di Mondo Internazionale HUB, all'interno del quale ha dato vita al progetto di MIPP, l'Incubatore di Politiche Pubbliche di Mondo Internazionale.


    Graduated with honors in Political Science from the University of Milan, curious, proactive and always motivated by new adventures and experiences. She has had several work, training and volunteer experiences in Italy and abroad. She is interested in public policy, international relations, political communication, European affairs and consultancy.
    Giulia joined the Mondo Internazionale community in June 2019 and has since held various editorial and management roles. To date she is Director of Mondo Internazionale HUB, within which she gave life to the project of MIPP, the Public Policy Incubator of Mondo Internazionale.

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