1980

ICJ

Aegean Sea Continental Shelf Case Jurisdiction Greece v Turkey Interim measures 1976

On 10 August 1976 Greece instituted proceedings against Turkey in respect of delimitation of continental shelf. The same date she asked provisional measures: refrain from all exploration activity, refrain from taking any military actions, they were denied because no irreparable prejudice was sustained Jurisdiction was based on art 17 of the General Act for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes 1928, read together with art 36.1 ICJ, and a join communiqué issued directly on a press conference on Brussels on 31 May 1975 following an exchange of views between the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey. The Brussels communiqué does not bear any signature or initials. It said: ‘in the course of the meeting the prime ministers have decided that those problems should be resolved peacefully by means of negotiations and as regards the continental shelf by the ICJ. They defined the general lines on the basis of which the forthcoming meetings of the representatives of the two governments would take place. They decided to bring forward the date of the meeting of experts concerning the question of continental shelf’

Turkey contended that the joint communiqué did not amount to an agreement under international law. (96) The court observes that it knows no rule of IL which might preclude a joint communiqué from constituting an international agreement to submit a dispute to arbitration or judicial settlement. Whether the communiqué constitutes such an agreement essentially depends on the nature of the act or transaction to which the communiqué gives expression. In determining what was indeed the nature of the act or transaction embodied in the communiqué the court must have regard above all to its actual terms and to the particular circumstances in which it was draw up. (107) Having regard to the terms of the communiqué and to the context in which it was agreed and issued, the court can only conclude that it was not intended to, and did not, constitute an immediate commitment by the prime ministers to accept unconditionally the unilateral submission of the present dispute to the court