.......................................... Basic "IRAC" Case Method
To effectively read a case, you might employ an "IRAC"
structure for legal case analysis: Issue, Rule, Application,
Conclusion. Begin by first considering the general subject of
the section of the text from which the case is assigned. That
will help you identify the context for the court's analysis.
For example, the International Court of Justice Iran Hostage
Case is in Chapter 7 of the textbook dealing with diplomatic
relations--specifically, the subsection on diplomatic immunities.
The essential issue you will analyze and discuss in
class will deal with some feature of the diplomatic immunities
addressed in that part of the chapter. Look for the essential
issue which the court must decide to solve the legal problem
presented by the facts (succinctly summarized in the "Author's
Note" segment at the outset of each case in the book). Thus,
the central issue is likely to focus on what specific immunities
are enjoyed by diplomats (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
or VCDR)--and whether the host nation (Iran) failed to honor
its relevant treaty commitments.
One of the rules identified in the Iran Hostage
Case is that Iran--even if it did not incite the crowds to
storm the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979--nevertheless had
an obligation under the VCDR to respond in a way which would
protect the US Embassy and its diplomats.
The application of that rule is demonstrated by the
facts presented in the case, the court's analysis, and the respective
parties' arguments. The decision devotes a great deal of time
to the various legal obligations a nation undertakes when it
becomnes a party to the VCDR--including the requirement to take
all reasonable steps to protect the diplomatic premises and occupants,
rather than doing nothing to seek the release of the captured
diplomats for 444 days.
Case opinions usually conclude with a result--in this
case, that Iran incurred liability for breaching its obligations
under the VCDR. The Court thus ordered Iran to release the hostages.