Thursday, December 22, 2011

On December 22

On this day in ...
... 1986 (25 years ago today), a 5-member Chamber of the International Court of Justice ruled in the case known as Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso/Republic of Mali). The ruling established the border between the 2 West African countries in accordance with the colonial borders, "'inherited from colonization'" (¶ 19), between what had been known as Upper Volta and French Sudan. (map credit) Reinforcing a proviso in the bilateral agreement that had led to the proceedings was the international law principle of uti posseditis juris, which, as the Chamber wrote, "accords pre-eminence to legal title over effective possession as a basis for sovereignty" (¶ 23). Recognizing potential conflict between that principle and the right of peoples to self-determination, the Chamber wrote that "the principle of uti posseditis has kept its place among the most important legal principles ... by deliberate choice that African states selected" (¶¶ 25-26). Two members of the Chamber wrote separate opinions; one, Judge Georges Abi-Saab, would have tempered the uti posseditis pronouncement with greater consideration of "equity infra legem" (¶¶ 13-15).

(Prior December 22 posts are here, here, here, and here.)

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