The US attempts to isolate
Iran have continued to date. Then President Carter said: We should use
the UN and other international bodies to increase our political and
legal pressure on Iran, isolate Iran in the international arena, and
convince Iranian leaders that if they resist freeing the hostages and
continue to violate international rights what heavy cost they have to
The United Nations Security Council
Since the US embassy was seized, the White House showed interest to drag the case to international bodies in order to use the United Nations charter and international rights to present itself as the victim of an unforgivable disrespect and imply that the disrespect has been rendered by a country that does not abide by the least codes of respect to international norms. The United Nations Security Council and its power was the first thing the US resorted to.
On December 4, 1979, after four days of negotiations, the UN Security Council asked the Iranian government to free the US Embassy staff who were under arrest in Iran. That order got confirmations from all 15 members of the Security Council including the USSR. A while later the US representative to the United Nations said the issue was not a disagreement between Iran and the US, but one between Iran and the international community.
That was the first United Nations Security Council resolution in relation to the hostage crisis. It points to the Vienna convention and diplomatic relations of 1961 and asks Iran and the United States to observe diplomatic agreements. Also, it asked Iran to adopt peaceful ways to settle remaining issues with the US and to refrain from committing acts of enmity any more.
Following Iran’s disregard for the resolution, the United States intensified its efforts, where in a second meeting Resolution 461 was issued and the United Nations secretary general was called upon to travel to Iran.
The Council reminded Member States against threats and the use of force in the international relations, the resolution called once again for the release of the American hostages and to allow them to leave the country. Resolution 461 reiterated the request to the Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim to lend his good offices to seeking a solution to the events, and to report his efforts before the Council meets again. Finally, the Council decided to meet again on 7 January 1980, to review the situation, and if needed, take any further action.
Pressurizing Kurt Weldheim
Kurt Weldheim as the fourth United Nations secretary general was another US tool to pressurize Iran after the embassy siege.
In 1980, Waldheim flew to Iran in an attempt to negotiate the release of the American hostages held in Tehran, but leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini refused to see him. While in Tehran, it was announced that an attempt on Waldheim's life had been foiled.
Pressure through the World Court of Justice in The Hague
Referring the case of the hostages to The Hague World Court of Justice was the next action taken by the United States. The court’s verdict was issued on the 24th day of the Iranian month of Azar where the court’s 15 judges recognized Iran as guilty for seizing the US embassy.
The Iran–United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT) is an international arbitral tribunal established pursuant to the Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981, an agreement between the United States and Iran mediated by Algeria to resolve the hostage crisis. In exchange for the release of the hostages seized by Iranian students on November 4, 1979, the United States agreed to terminate litigation against Iran in U.S. courts and to release Iranian assets frozen by the Carter Administration. Many of the frozen assets had been attached by U.S. claimants pursuant to Treasury license. The U.S. claims agreement with Iran provided an alternative remedy backed by a billion dollar escrow account for U.S. nationals with contract and expropriation claims against Iran.
President Reagan confirmed the Algiers Accords, and the constitutionality of these arrangements was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Dames & Moore v. Regan,453 U.S. 654(1981).
U.S. officials who participated in the Iran Hostage Crisis (1979-1981) have discussed that diplomacy and the Algiers Accords in American Hostages in Iran: The Conduct of a Crisis (Yale 1985) and in Revolutionary Days: The Iran Hostage Crisis and the Hague Claims Tribunal, A Look Back (Juris 1996).
The Islamic Cooperation Council
Since the Islamic revolution until the beginning of the Iraqi invasion of Iran, the Islamic Republic had an active presence in the Islamic Cooperation Council. In the case of the hostage crisis, after heavy US pressure, the ICC issued a statement condemning the siege of the embassy, but in the meantime it also spoke against foreign pressure on the Islamic republic by the United States. The ICC announced that it was against any pressure and use of force or intervention in Iran as a way to deal with the hostage crisis.
The study of the US course of actions in the United Nations and other organizations reveals White House efforts to pave the ground in the political and legal arenas likely to refer the Iranian case to article 40 or probably 41 of the Security Council and launch vast military actions against Iran. It was something that the Iranian government deprived the US of through its resistance and steadfastness.