Britain, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine have requested that Tehran submit to arbitration to settle a dispute over the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane by Iranian forces nearly three years ago.
The group of four countries on December 28 called on Iran to settle the dispute over accountability and reparations under the 1971 Montreal Convention. All five countries are signatories of this multilateral treaty, which requires states to prevent and punish offences against civil aviation.
If the countries cannot settle their dispute within six months, Iran can be taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was hit by two missiles after taking off from Tehran on January 8, 2020. All 176 people on board died. Britain, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine have created a coordination group that seeks reparations on behalf of the families of the victims, many of whom were citizens or residents of those countries.
Iran has admitted mistakenly shooting down the plane, saying its air defenses had been on high alert at the time of the incident after it fired ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. forces amid heightened tensions with the United States.
In their joint statement, Britain, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine accused Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of having "unlawfully and intentionally" launched two surface-to-air missiles at the Boeing 737.
The group said it remained "committed to pursuing efforts to hold Iran accountable for its multiple breaches of its international legal obligations."
"Those who lost loved ones in the downing of PS752 deserve justice," Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly tweeted.
"We have taken an important step to advance our pursuit of that justice at the international level this week and will continue to work together to hold Iran accountable for this tragedy."
Eighty-five of the passengers on the flight PS752 were citizens and permanent residents of Canada.
Direct talks with Iran broke down earlier this year, when the coordination group said its attempts to resolve the matter through negotiations had been "futile."
Iran has put on trial 10 people over the incident, but the families of the victims have little hope this process will bring truth and justice.