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Gordian KnotApartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order$
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Ryan M. Irwin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199855612

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199855612.001.0001

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Halls of Justice

Halls of Justice

Chapter:
(p.103) 4 Halls of Justice
Source:
Gordian Knot
Author(s):

Ryan M. Irwin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199855612.003.0004

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

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