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V.

TERRITORY States and Spain, also called "Treaty of Paris," and


ceded in virtue of the said article to the United States,
A. Island of Las Palmas Case (US v. Netherlands), was considered by the Netherlands as forming part of
2 RIAA 829 the territory of its possessions in the East Indies.[3]
The United States, as the successor to the rights of
The Island of Palmas Case (Scott, Hague Court
Spain over the Philippines, based its title in the first
Reports 2d 83 (1932), (Perm. Ct. Arb. 1928), 2 U.N.
place on discovery. The existence of sovereignty thus
Rep. Intl. Arb. Awards 829) was a territorial dispute
acquired was not merely confirmed by the most reliable
over the Island of Palmas (or Miangas) between
cartographers and authors and even by treaty,
the Netherlands and the United States which was
particularly the Treaty of Münster of 1648, which was
heard by the Permanent Court of
agreed to by Spain and the Netherlands. According to
Arbitration. Palmas (Indonesian: Pulau Miangas) was
the same argument, nothing had occurred of a nature to
declared to be a part of the Netherlands East
cause the acquired title to disappear in international
Indies and is now part of Indonesia.
law. The United States argued the latter title at the
The case is one of the most influential precedents moment when Spain ceded its title to the Philippines by
dealing with island territorial conflicts. the Treaty of Paris in 1898. Thus, it was unnecessary to
establish facts showing the actual display of
Palmas (Miangas) is an island of little economic value
sovereignty precisely over the Island of Palmas.
or strategic location. It is 2.6 km in north-south length
and 1.0 km in east-west width.[1] It had a population Principle of contiguity[edit]
of about 750 in 1932, when the case was decided.
The island lies between Mindanao, the southernmost The American government finally maintained that
part of the Philippines, and the Nanusa Islands, the Palmas forms a geographical part of the Philippine
next-northernmost part of Indonesia. group and is closer to the Philippines than to the Dutch
East Indies. Thus, the principle of contiguity
In 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United substantiated the claim that it belongs to the power with
States in the Treaty of Paris (1898) and Palmas is sovereignty over the Philippines.[4]
located within the boundaries of that cession. In 1906,
the United States discovered that the Netherlands
also claimed sovereignty over the island, and the two Dutch arguments[edit]
parties agreed to submit to binding arbitration by
the Permanent Court of Arbitration. On 23 January The Netherlands considered that the fact of discovery
1925, the two governments signed an agreement to by Spain was not proved, and the same held for any
that effect. Ratifications were exchanged other form of acquisition. Even if Spain had ever the
in Washington, D.C. on 1 April 1925. The agreement title, it had been lost. The principle of contiguity was
was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on contested.
19 May 1925.[2] The arbitrator in the case was Max The main argument was that the Netherlands,
Huber, a Swiss lawyer. represented by the East India Company, possessed
The question before the arbitrator was whether the and exercised rights of sovereignty from 1677 or even
Island of Palmas (Miangas) formed part of United prior to 1648. Sovereignty arose out of conventions
States territory (referring to what is now entered into with native princes of Sangi (the main
the Philippines) or Dutch territory (referring to what is island of the Talautse Isles) to stabilize the sovereignty
now Indonesia). of the Netherlands over the territories of the princes,
including Palmas (or Miangas). That state of affairs set
On 1 January 1906, General Leonard Wood, up was claimed to be validated by international treaties.
Governor of Moro Province, Philippines, visited [5]
Palmas. According to the Counter-Memorandum filed
in the case by the United States, he had already
visited the island in "about 1903". The report of Wood Issues[edit]
to the Military Secretary, United States Army, on 26
January 1906, and the certificate delivered on 21 Huber had to determine "whether the Island of Palmas
January by First Lieutenant Gordon Johnston to the (or Miangas) in its entirety forms a part of territory
native interrogated by the controller of the Sangi belonging to the United States of America or of
(Sanghi) and Talauer (Talaut) Islands clearly show that Netherlands territory." Based on the arguments made
the 21 January visit relates to the island in dispute. by both states, there were two main issues:
The visit led to the US statement that the Island of •Did the inchoate title claimed by the United States
Palmas, undoubtedly included in the "archipelago prevail over a continuous and peaceful display of
known as the Philippine Islands," as delimited by sovereignty exercised by Netherlands?
Article III of the Treaty of Peace between the United
•Did a title of contiguity have foundation in proposed American approach, that would lead to
international law? arbitrary results.
Continuous and peaceful display of
Decision[edit]
sovereignty[edit]
Huber ruled for the Netherlands:
The Netherlands' primary contention was that it held
For these reasons actual title because the Netherlands had exercised
authority on the island since 1677. The arbitrator noted
The Arbitrator in conformity with Article I that the United States had failed to show
of the Special Agreement of 23 January documentation proving Spanish sovereignty on the
1925 DECIDES that : THE ISLAND OF island except the documents that specifically mentioned
PALMAS (or MIANGAS) forms in its the island's discovery. Additionally, there was no
entirety a part of the Netherlands evidence that Palmas was a part of the judicial or
territory. done at The Hague, this fourth administrative organization of the Spanish government
day of April 1928. Max Huber, of the Philippines. However, the Netherlands showed
ArbitratorMichiels van Verduynen, that the Dutch East India Company had negotiated
Secretary-General.[6] treaties with the local princes of the island since the
17th century and had exercised sovereignty, including a
Right by discovery[edit] requirement of Protestantism and the denial of other
nationals on the island. The arbitrator pointed out that if
The United States argued that it held the island Spain had actually exercised authority, there would
because it had received actual title by legitimate have been conflicts between the two countries, but
treaties from the original discoverer of the island, none is provided in the evidence.
Spain. The United States argued that Spain acquired
title to Palmas when Spain discovered the island and Thus, a title that is inchoate cannot prevail over a
the island was terra nullius. Spain's title to the island, definite title found on the continuous and peaceful
because it was a part of the Philippines, was then display of sovereignty. Peaceful and continuous display
ceded to the United States under the Treaty of Paris of territorial sovereignty is as good as title. However,
(1898) after Spain's defeat in the Spanish–American discovery alone, without a subsequent act, cannot
War. The arbitrator noted that no new international suffice to prove sovereignty over the island. The
law invalidated the legal transfer of territory via territorial sovereignty of the defendant, Netherlands,
cession. was not contested by anyone from 1700 to 1906 so the
title of discovery at best an inchoate title and does not
However, the arbitrator noted that Spain could not prevail over the Netherlands claims of sovereignty.[4]
legally grant what it did not hold and the Treaty of
Paris could not grant Palmas to the United States if
Spain had no actual title to it. The arbitrator concluded Precedent[edit]
that Spain held an [1] title when Spain "discovered"
Under the decision, three precedents for resolving
Palmas. However, for a sovereign to maintain its initial
title via discovery, the arbitrator said that the island territorial disputes were decided:
discoverer had to actually exercise authority even by •Title based on contiguity has no standing in
as simple an act as planting a flag on the beach. international law;
Spain did not exercise authority over the island after •Title by discovery is only an inchoate title;
making an initial claim after discovery and so the •If another sovereign begins to exercise continuous and
American claim was based on relatively weak actual sovereignty openly and publicly and with good
grounds. title, but the discoverer does not contest the claim, the
Contiguity[edit] claim by the sovereign that exercises authority is then
greater than a title based on mere discovery.
The United States argued that Palmas was American
territory because the island was closer to the B. Eastern Greenland Case, PCIJ Ser. A/B, No. 53
Philippines than to the Netherlands East Indies. The
arbitrator said that there was no positive international Citation. Court of Int’l Justice, 1993 P.C.I.J. (ser. A/B)
law for the American view of terra firma in which the No. 53 at 71
nearest continent or island of considerable size gives
title to the land in dispute. The arbitrator held that
mere proximity was not an adequate claim to land and Brief Fact Summary. The statement made by the
noted that if the international community followed the Norwegian Minister was claimed to be binding on his
country by Denmark (P).
rejected France's position stating that there was no rule
to that effect in international law.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A country is bound by the


Lotus principle[edit]
reply given on its behalf by its Minister of Foreign
Affairs. The Lotus principle or Lotus approach, usually
considered a foundation of international law, says
Facts. The agreement not to obstruct Danish (P) that sovereign states may act in any way they wish so
plans with regard to Greenland was what Denmark long as they do not contravene an explicit prohibition.
wanted to obtain from Norway (D). To this request, a The application of this principle – an outgrowth of the
declaration on behalf of the Norwegian government Lotus case – to future incidents raising the issue of
(D) was made by its Minister for Foreign Affairs that jurisdiction over people on the high seas was changed
Norway (D) would not make any difficulty in the by article 11[1] of the 1958 High Seas Convention. The
settlement of the question. convention, held in Geneva, laid emphasis on the fact
that only the flag state or the state of which the alleged
Issue. Is a country bound by the reply given on its offender was a national had jurisdiction over sailors
behalf by its Minister of Foreign Affairs? regarding incidents occurring in high seas.
The principle has also been used in arguments against
Held. Yes. A country is bound by the reply given on its the reasons of the United States of America for
behalf by its Minister of Foreign Affairs. Therefore in opposing the existence of the International Criminal
this case, the response by the diplomatic Court (ICC).[2]
representative of a foreign power is binding upon the
country the Minister represents.
Trivia[edit]
Discussion. The main source of international law on In the court Turkish side was represented by Mahmut
treaties is the Vienna Convention on the Law of Esat Bozkurt, the Minister of Justice. In 1934, when
Treaties. The Convention was ratified by 35 countries Turkey adopted the formal surname system, Mahmut
but not by the United States. Unilateral statements Esat chose the surname Bozkurt suggested by Kemal
may also be binding on states. Atatürk as a reminiscence of the case.
Brief Fact Summary. Turkey’s (D) assertion of
C. SS Lotus Case, PCIJ Ser. A, No. jurisdiction over a French citizen who had been the first
10The Lotus case concerns a criminal trial which was officer of a ship that collided with a Turkish ship on the
the result of the 2 August 1926 collision between the high seas was challenged by France (P) as a violation
S.S. Lotus, a French steamship (or steamer), and the of international law.
S.S. Bozkurt, a Turkish steamer, in a region just north
of Mytilene (Greece). As a result of the accident, eight
Turkish nationals aboard the Bozkurt drowned when
the vessel was torn apart by the Lotus.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A rule of international law,
Background[edit] which prohibits a state from exercising criminal
On 7 September 1927 the case was presented before jurisdiction over a foreign national who commits acts
the Permanent Court of International Justice, the outside of the state’s national jurisdiction, does not
judicial branch of the League of Nations, the exist.
predecessor of the United Nations.
Facts. A collision occurred shortly before midnight on
The issue at stake was Turkey's jurisdiction to try the 2nd of August 1926 between the French (P) mail
Monsieur Demons, the French lieutenant on watch steamer Lotus and the Turkish (D) collier Boz-Kourt.
duty at the time of the collision. Since the collision The French mail steamer was captained by a French
occurred on the high seas, France claimed that the citizen by the name Demons while the Turkish collier
state whose flag the vessel flew had exclusive Boz-Kourt was captained by Hassan Bey. The Turks
jurisdiction over the matter. France proffered case law, lost eight men after their ship cut into two and sank as a
through which it attempted to show at least state result of the collision.
practice in support of its position. However, those Although the Lotus did all it could do within its power to
cases involved ships that both flew the flag of the help the ship wrecked persons, it continued on its
same state. The Court, therefore, by a bare majority, course to Constantinople, where it arrived on August 3.
On the 5th of August, Lieutenant Demons was asked by
the Turkish (D) authority to go ashore to give The State of Eritrea and the Republic of Yemen both
evidence. After Demons was examined, he was claimed sovereignty over a group of islands in the Red
placed under arrest without informing the French (P) Sea and disagreed as to the location of their maritime
Consul-General and Hassan Bey. Demons were boundary. The Arbitration Agreement, between the
convicted by the Turkish (D) courts for negligence Parties dated October 3, 1996, required the Tribunal to
conduct in allowing the accident to occur. rule on these two issues in separate stages.
This basis was contended by Demons on the ground
that the court lacked jurisdiction over him. With this, In its award in the first stage dated October 9, 1998, the
both countries agreed to submit to the Permanent Tribunal found that neither Party made a significantly
Court of International Justice, the question of whether more convincing case for ownership of any of the
the exercise of Turkish (D) criminal jurisdiction over islands based on ancient title, as argued by Yemen, or
Demons for an incident that occurred on the high seas a succession of title, as asserted by Eritrea. After
contravened international law. reviewing the evidence, the Tribunal decided that
Eritrea had sovereignty over the Mohabbakhs, the
Haycocks, and the South West Rocks, because of their
proximity to the Eritrean mainland. The Tribunal found
Yemen to be sovereign over the Zubayr group because
of its installation and maintenance of lighthouses on
Issue. Issue: Does a rule of international law which certain of these islands and the inclusion of the Zubayr
prohibits a state from exercising criminal jurisdiction group in two oil production agreements contracted by
over a foreign national who commits acts outside of Yemen with private firms. Yemen was also found to be
the state’s national jurisdiction exist? sovereign over the Zuqar-Hanish group on the balance
of the evidence regarding the exercise of the functions
Held. (Per curiam) No. A rule of international law, of state authority.
which prohibits a state from exercising criminal
jurisdiction over a foreign national who commits acts In the second award dated December 17, 1999, the
outside of the state’s national jurisdiction, does not Tribunal effected its delimitation of the maritime
exist. Failing the existence of a permissive rule to the boundary between Eritrea and Yemen. While Eritrea
contrary is the first and foremost restriction imposed was not a party to the United Nations Convention on
by international law on a state and it may not exercise the Law of the Sea 1982 (“UNCLOS”), the Tribunal
its power in any form in the territory of another state. found that many of the relevant elements of customary
This does not imply that international law prohibits a international law were incorporated into the
state from exercising jurisdiction in its own territory, in corresponding provisions of UNCLOS and that Eritrea
respect of any case that relates to acts that have had accepted the application of these provisions by
taken place abroad which it cannot rely on some reference to UNCLOS in the Arbitration Agreement.
permissive rule of international law. In this situation, it
is impossible to hold that there is a rule of The Tribunal ruled that the international maritime
international law that prohibits Turkey (D) from boundary between the Parties “shall be a single all-
prosecuting Demons because he was aboard a purpose boundary” that “should, as far practicable, be a
French ship. This stems from the fact that the effects median line between the opposite mainland coastlines.”
of the alleged offense occurred on a Turkish vessel. This solution was not only in accord with precedent but
Hence, both states here may exercise concurrent was also familiar to both Parties and reflected by
jurisdiction over this matter because there is no rule of offshore petroleum agreements entered into by Yemen,
international law in regards to collision cases to the Eritrea, and Ethiopia. The Tribunal then calculated the
effect that criminal proceedings are exclusively within boundary line resulting from the application of these
the jurisdiction of the state whose flag is flown. principles and set out the geographical coordinates of
Discussion. In 1975, France enacted a law regarding the international maritime boundary in the dispositif of
its criminal jurisdiction over aliens because of this the the award.
situation surrounding this case. The law stipulates that
aliens who commit a crime outside the territory of the E. Preah Vihear Temple Case, ICJ Reports, 1962
Republic may be prosecuted and judged pursuant to
French law, when the victim is of French nationality.
This is contained in 102 Journal Du Droit International OVERVIEW OF THE CASE
962 (Clunet 1975). Several eminent scholars have
criticized the holding in this case for seeming to imply Cambodia complained that Thailand had occupied a
that international law permits all that it does not forbid. piece of its territory surrounding the ruins of the Temple
of Preah Vihear, a place of pilgrimage and worship for
Cambodians, and asked the Court to declare that
D. Eritrea-Yemen Arbitration, PCA territorial sovereignty over the Temple belonged to it
and that Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw
the armed detachment stationed there since 1954.
Thailand filed preliminary objections to the Court’s
jurisdiction, which were rejected in a Judgment given
on 26 May 1961. In its Judgment on the merits,
rendered on 15 June 1962, the Court noted that a
Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1904 provided that, in the
area under consideration, the frontier was to follow
the watershed line, and that a map based on the work
of a Mixed Delimitation Commission showed the
Temple on the Cambodian side of the boundary.
Thailand asserted various arguments aimed at
showing that the map had no binding character. One
of its contentions was that the map had never been
accepted by Thailand or, alternatively, that if Thailand
had accepted it, it had done so only because of a
mistaken belief that the frontier indicated
corresponded to the watershed line. The Court found
that Thailand had indeed accepted the map and
concluded that the Temple was situated on
Cambodian territory. It also held that Thailand was
under an obligation to withdraw any military or police
force stationed there and to restore to Cambodia any
objects removed from the ruins since 1954.

F. Frontier Dispute Case (Burkina Faso v. Mali),


ICJ Reports, 198
o At the time Chad was a part of France’s colonial
territory, along w/ the Aouzou Strip, and that was
included as a part of France’s territory (and thus Chad)
in the treaty
o Libya agreed to these boundaries, but NOW it
claims that the treaty was invalid (Libya’s king was
G. Libya v. Chad, ICJ Reports 1994 allegedly coerced to sign the treaty…); also allegiance
to Libya in the area; and also title to the area by the
The Case Concerning the Territorial Dispute (Libyan Ottoman Empire and then Italy (predecessor; =>
Arab Jamahiriya v. Chad) [1994] ICJ 1 is a public history)
international law case before the International Court of o If there is a treaty, then there is no question about it;
Justice on 3 February 1994. The case was won by IF there is NO treaty, then the two most important
Chad, whose sovereignty over Aouzou Strip was factors to consider are:
affirmed (by a majority of 16 to 1). § 1) WHO lived there => where do they have
allegiance to (complicated => when?)
Facts § 2) Not only the inhabitants, but some historical facts;
The Aouzou Strip is a barren piece of land located on effective administrative control,
the border of Chad and Libya. Libya had begun to government/municipality, etc.
stage troops on the strip in order to assist with the o THUS, Libya uses mostly “factual” arguments, and
defense of its citizens who lived in the area. Despite some minor legal arguments
the land having no strategic or functional value to § One minor legal argument => that the treaty was
Chad, the government saw the Aouzou Strip as part of invalid (coerced to sign)
their sovereign territory. Due to the inability of both · But Libya did not fight very hard against this
countries to internally establish a line of demarcation, treaty, so hard to support
the case was referred to the International Court of o BUT, there was also the 1966 Treaty between Chad
Justice for adjudication in 1990. & Libya =>it discussed frontier questions, but there was
nothing about border disputes
Each country has a differing basis from which it is § 1955 treaty was more explicit, but 1966 treaty
deriving its claims of the Aouzou Strip. Libya’s claim is support is, more direct because it was between Libya
on "the basis of a coalescence of rights and titles of and Chad directly (not France and Libya)
the indigenous inhabitants, the Senoussi Order, the · RULING/REASONING: The ICJ ruled that even
Ottoman Empire, and through an agreement that its though one treat supercedes another, the boundary still
government made with Italy." However, Chad has remains…
argued that the border was established through the o What can we gather from this? => interpretation is a
Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness which CHOICE (in most cases judges have a choice, which
was concluded between France and Libya in 1955. means more than one interpretations)
From Libya’s perspective, there is not enough § When you make a choice you choose whichever you
evidence to show that a boundary was ever can support, rationalize
established and that they have adequately lay claim to o Thus the Ct held that the 1955 Treaty prevails =>
the Aouzou Strip through administrative control. there must have been some purpose, an object for this
Chad’s use of the Treaty of Friendship and Good treaty, which led to this interpretive choice by the court
Neighborliness as basis of its claim has also been § The court wanted the boundary to be FINAL =>
challenged due to the treaty being in effect for only 20 permanence
years (1955-1975). § Why is this important? => sanctity of
Judgment boundary/border, & sanctity of treaty
The International Court of Justice ruled that the · If we can so easily vanquish a treaty, than why
boundary between Chad and Libya is defined by the have treaties in the first place? You should give treaties
Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness which certain weight, what’s written in them
was concluded between France and Libya in 1955. o ALSO, the subject matter is important; 1955 was
Conversely, this gives Chad territorial sovereignty specifically about the borders/boundary lines
over the Aouzou Strip § THUS, the court made this choice b/c of the sanctity
of borders, & of treaties
Chad-Libya Conflict SIDE NOTE:
· FACTS: Chad contests that the Aouzou strip o QUES: What is the International Court of Justice?
belongs to them b/c of the 1955 Treaty of Friendship § Highest court of the UN; a kind of Supreme Ct of UN
& Good Neighborliness b/t Libya and France (but there are no lower cts)
(France’s claims to its borders in colonial Africa); it’s a § Why can’t an individual file a complaint in the ICJ?
classical border dispute, territory (classic intl law · The individual is a member of the intl
case) community…
· BUT, members of the intl community/ICJ are § On the other hand, Chad vehemently advocated their
STATES not individuals case (3 diff. fora)
o Intl law is about state-to-state · 1) Organization for Unity of Africa
§ What about jurisdiction? · 2) United Nations General Assembly
· 1) Two members sign an agreement (like · 3) United Nations Security Council
arbitration) · Libya should comply with the results because
o Sign a special agreement that gives type of jx their actions went against their words; fear of going
· 2) Automatic Provision against more than just Chad once submitted to ICJ…
o There are certain explicit provisions that give jx… o Other countries were more sympathetic to Chad;
“if there is a dispute that rises under this issue… can political pressures for Libya to w/draw
go to ICJ” · Can’t it be both a victory for intl law as well as a
· 3) Self-Declaration political loss for Libya?
o Succumb yourself to the jx of the ICJ · Q1: What if Libya unilaterally terminated the
· First, in Chad-Libya think of why these two treaty?
countries bothered to dispute over this seemingly o Positivism, you can create a treaty, and you can
insignificant piece of land. In resolving this dispute, destroy a treaty
what do you think was the role (or value) of o It’s not that easy to terminate a treaty => certain
international law? procedural conditions, notification, etc.
o The two countries bothered to dispute over it b/c § Even if you effectively terminate, there are factual
it’s a power struggle => boundary lines/territory is a circumstances => estoppels
significant power to a sovereign state, an exercise of § THUS, still Libya had a very weak case
sovereignty… · Q2: Why did Chad (or Libya) care for such a
§ Being able to exercise sovereignty/use that right is useless piece of land? (as seen above in notes)
part of being a nation state o Maybe there were other disputes between the two
§ It’s a part of defining oneself, and it can hold countries; manifested in border
historical significance as well o Set an example, weaker countries can win => INTL
o It could be a political issue => national pride; law worked
potential issue => vulnerability · Q3: Why did Libya agree to be subject to the ICJ,
o Intl law helped resolve this issue without resorting adjudicated (it’s a more powerful country…)?
to just self-help (war) => there had been several o They knew they had a weak case? That they would
armed conflicts, but it helps avoid outright war; helps lose… => for finality?
promote a sense of international community… o Going to ICJ lends credibility (matter of pride) =>
§ Helps sovereign states compromise and live in they’re not just giving in, it’s forced
harmony… o Maybe there was a lot of political pressure => so
§ INTL law worked here, the stronger/more powerful legalization gives a type of shelter
country (Libya) lost here § We’re still a good country, respectfully comply with
· As to the ICJ (International Court of Justice)’s the decision (no humiliation)
interpretation, what was the main source of o We’re not in a political vacuum; Libya was powerful,
international law on which the ICJ relied? Or did the but not compared to many other countries, and it was
ICJ rely more on other (non-legal) aspects of the not well favored => so legalization is a deflection of
dispute, such as actual behaviors of countries criticism
concerned? o THUS, legalization was a win-win for Libya
o The ICJ relied mainly on the 1955 treaty between · Q4: What if a similar dispute arises between
Libya & France, and used behavior to confirm that => China and Russia today?
it was almost akin to a contract (there are the terms of o Who knows…
the contract, and when/if it’s ambiguous you can · THUS, in this case we can celebrate, that intl law
consider the actions of the parties…) works (it worked here), BUT you can’t say so for every
o THUS, the ICJ actually interpreted 2 different situation that passed or that is to come… => it’s
treaties, the 1955 and the 1966 treaties; they also different
interpreted many facts (attitudes of the two o That’s why positivism still exists…
countries…, other circumstances) o Treaties are still an important part of intl law
§ They interpreted the behaviors of the parties, (source), but there are interesting dynamics with other
AFTER the treaty; it’s very strong supplemental situations, facts, etc.
evidence from the legal evidence of the treaty
§ Even after the 1966 treaty, Libya never complained
about the border; if it was so important to them and
they were so against it, why did they remain silent?
· Logical conclusion is that Libya kind of tacitly
agreed => estoppels
H. Anglo-Norwegian Fisheries Case, ICJ Reports,
1951

The United Kingdom v Norway [1951] ICJ 3 also known


as the Fisheries Case was the culmination of a dispute,
originating in 1933, over how large an area of water
surrounding Norway was Norwegian waters (that
Norway thus had exclusive fishing rights to) and how
much was 'high seas' (that the UK could thus fish).

History
The situation which gave rise to the dispute and the
facts which preceded the filing of the British Application
are recalled in the Judgment. The coastal zone
concerned in the dispute is of a distinctive
configuration. Its length as the crow flies exceeds 1,500
kilometers. Mountainous along its whole length, very
broken by fjords and bays, dotted with countless
islands, islets and reefs (certain of which form a
continuous archipelago known as the skjaergaard,
"rock rampart"), the coast does not constitute, (as it
does in practically all other countries in the world) a
clear dividing line between land and sea. The land
configuration stretches out into the sea and what really
constitutes the Norwegian coastline is the outer line of
the land formations viewed as a whole. Along the
coastal zone are situated shallow banks which are very
rich in fish. These have been exploited from time
immemorial by the inhabitants of the mainland and of
the islands: they derive their livelihood essentially from
such fishing. In past centuries British fisherman had
made incursions in the waters near the Norwegian
coast. As a result of complaints from the King of
Norway, they abstained from doing so at the beginning
of the 17th century and for 300 years. But in 1906
British vessels appeared again. These were trawlers
equipped with improved and powerful gear. The local
population became perturbed, and measures were
taken by Norway with a view to specifying the limits
within which fishing was prohibited to foreigners.
Incidents occurred, became more and more frequent,
and on July 12, 1935 the Norwegian Government
delimited the Norwegian fisheries zone by Decree.
Negotiations had been entered into by the two
Governments; they were pursued after the Decree was
enacted, but without success. A considerable number of
British trawlers were arrested and condemned in 1948
and 1949. It was then that the United Kingdom
Government instituted proceedings before the Court. Assembly’s 1960 resolution 1514 (XV) — containing the
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to
Facts Colonial Countries and Peoples — in the decolonization
On 28 September 1949, the UK requested that the of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of
International Court of Justice determine how far self-determination through the free and genuine
Norway's territorial claim extended to sea, and to expression of the will of the peoples of the territory.
award the UK damages in compensation for
Norwegian interference with UK fishing vessels in the
disputed waters, claiming that Norway's claim to such
an extent of waters was against international law.

Judgment
On 18 December 1951, the ICJ decided that Norway's
claims to the waters were consistent with international
laws concerning the ownership of local sea-space.

The Court found that neither the method employed for


the delimitation by the Decree, nor the lines
themselves fixed by the said Decree, are contrary to
international law; the first finding being adopted by ten
votes to two, and the second by eight votes to four.
Three Judges — MM. Alvarez, Hackworth and Hsu
Mo appended to the Judgment a declaration or an
individual opinion stating the particular reasons for
which they reached their conclusions; two other
Judges—Sir Arnold McNair and Mr. J. E. Read—
appended to the Judgment statements of their
dissenting Opinions.

I. Western Sahara Case, ICJ Reports, 1975


OVERVIEW OF THE CASE
On 13 December 1974, the General Assembly
requested an advisory opinion on the following
questions : “I. Was Western Sahara (Rio de Oro and
Sakiet El Hamra) at the time of colonization by Spain
a territory belonging to no one (terra nullius) ?” If the
answer to the first question is in the negative, “II.
What were the legal ties between this territory and the
Kingdom of Morocco and the Mauritanian entity ?” In
its Advisory Opinion, delivered on 16 October 1975,
the Court replied to Question I in the negative. In reply
to Question II, it expressed the opinion that the
materials and information presented to it showed the
existence, at the time of Spanish colonization, of legal
ties of allegiance between the Sultan of Morocco and
some of the tribes living in the territory of Western
Sahara. They equally showed the existence of rights,
including some rights relating to the land, which
constituted legal ties between the Mauritanian entity,
as understood by the Court, and the territory of
Western Sahara. On the other hand, the Court’s
conclusion was that the materials and information
presented to it did not establish any tie of territorial
sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara
and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity.
Thus the Court did not find any legal ties of such a
nature as might affect the application of the General