By Dr Olga Martin-Ortega, Reader in Public International Law, Greenwich University

Seen on another blog, an interesting comment by Professor Steven Haines on the potential impacts of a recent Judgement of the International Court of Justice, The Hague.

In November 2012, the ICJ released its decision on the Territorial and Maritime Dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia. Right after the decision was made public, Haines notes, comments suggested that the ICJ might have negative consequences on crime combating in the Caribbean. His article thus offers an extensive summary of the facts and proceeds, but it also goes on to an interesting debate on how a ruling on territorial and maritime soverignty may in practice relate to international criminal law.

Here is an abstract, the full article is available here

“It must be said that on first reflecting on this case, it appears to have no substantial relevance to international criminal law at all. As already explained, it was to do with rival maritime claims that, while producing tension, had not previously resulted in the parties to the dispute resorting to force […] We can also reasonably rule out the possibility of this case having any relevance to ICC-based international criminal law. If, however, we adopt a broader definition of what constitutes ‘international crime’ there is at least a suggestion that the Judgement has consequences. A broader definition arguably includes all serious crimes having a significant international dimension. Given the international nature of the oceans, crimes committed at sea will almost invariably have potentially significant international dimensions. One group of crimes with profound international consequences is to do with the manufacture, sale and trafficking of illicit narcotics”.

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By Natasha Harrington, pupil barrister (Essex Court Chambers, London)

Mauritius has brought a claim under UNCLOS to stop the U.K. from pulling the rug out from under its long-standing claim to sovereignty over the Chagos Islands. The proceedings are likely to start with a fierce jurisdictional battle that presents an opportunity to clarify the role and scope of jurisdiction of specialist tribunals.


On 20th December 2010 Mauritius filed a notification, statement of claim and grounds for ad hoc arbitration against the U.K under article 287 and annex VII of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, available here, under International Environmental Law Group, Public Documents).

The Mauritian claim follows what has been described as ‘a shockingly recent act of imperial arrogance’ (see the Chagos Support Association Website). In 1965, the U.K. included the Chagos Archipelago in a new British Indian Ocean Territory. The Chagos Islands were removed from the colony of Mauritius at a price of £3 million by an agreement between the U.K. and Mauritius that provided for the return of the islands when they are no longer required for defence purposes. Between 1967 and 1973 the U.K. forcibly expelled all 2,000 residents of the Chagos Archipelago and established a naval base on its largest island, Diego Garcia, which was leased to the U.S.A. Mauritius has claimed sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago since its independence in 1968. Chagossians have recently challenged prohibitions on return to their former homeland in the courts of the U.S.A. and the U.K., one such challenge is currently before the E.Ct.H.R. (Chagos Islanders v U.K.).

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By Robert Grabosch, Attorney at law

The International Court of Justice has just read out its preliminary decision on the Costa Rica v Nicaragua border dispute. The court decided that both Nicaragua and Costa Rica must for now abandon the disputed Isla Calero, in particular Nicaragua must withdraw its civilian, security and military personnel on the island. In addition, the majority held that Costa Rica may send non-military personnel on the island, but only as necessary in order to safeguard the natural environment from damage.1

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Costa Rica has instituted proceedings before the ICJ against Nicaragua claiming violations of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On 18 November 2010, the Republic of Costa Rica instituted proceedings against the Republic of Nicaragua before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in the so-called ‘Isla Calero dispute’. The proceedings concern an alleged “incursion into, occupation of and use by Nicaragua’s Army of Costa Rican territory as well as breaches of Nicaragua’s obligations towards Costa Rica” under a number of international treaties and conventions.

Read the full comment: Costa Rica institutes proceedings against Nicaragua » The Hague Justice Portal.

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