1998

ICJ

Case concerning the land and maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria Cameroon v Nigeria Preliminary objections Interim measures 1996

Cameroon filed 29 March 1994 an application instituting proceedings against Nigeria in relation to a dispute described as the ‘sovereignty of Bakassi Peninsula’ asking the court to determine the course of the maritime boundary. 12 February 1996, following clashes of the armies in the peninsula, via Fax provisional measures were requested: refrain from military action; they were granted Jurisdiction claimed to be founded on declaration under art 36.2 Nigeria advanced the following objections: 1st Cameroon by lodging application on 29 march 1994, violated its obligation to act in good faith and acted in abuse of the system of 36.2 2nd for 24 years the parties have accepted a duty to settle all boundary questions through bilateral machinery and this is an implied agreement to resort exclusively to that mechanism without invoking ICJ 3rd the settlement of boundary disputes is the exclusive competence of Lake Chad Basin Commission and the procedures there are obligatory to the parties, such procedures involve the implication not to resort ICJ 8th the question of maritime delimitation involves rights of 3rd parties so is inadmissible (22) Nigeria accepted compulsory jurisdiction 1965, Cameroon accepted on 3 March 1994, and was notified by the SG 11 ½ later, Cameroon filled the application on 29 March 1994.

(35) Court notes that to require a reasonable time to elapse before a declaration can take effect would be to introduce an element of uncertainty into the operation of the optional clause system. (39) Good faith is a well-established principle of IL governing the creation and performance of legal obligations, but is not itself a source of obligation where none would otherwise exist. There is no specific obligation of IL for states to inform other states that they intend to subscribe to the optional clause (56) Negotiation and judicial settlement are enumerated together in art 33 UN as means for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Neither the Charter nor otherwise in international law is any general rule to be found to the effect that the exhaustion of diplomatic negotiations constitutes a precondition for a matter to be referred to the court. The fact that the two states have attempted to solve some off the boundary issues dividing them during bilateral contacts, did not imply that either one had excluded the possibility of bringing any boundary dispute concerning it before other for a. An estoppel would only arise if by acts or declarations Cameroon had consistently made it fully clear that it had agreed to settle the boundary dispute submitted to the court by bilateral avenues alone. It would further be necessary that by relying on such attitude Nigeria had changed position to its own detriment or had suffered some prejudice. The conditions are not fulfilled in this case (116) [Dealing with the 8th objection] Te court notes that it is evident that the prolongation of maritime boundary runs into maritime zones where the rights and interest of Cameroon and Nigeria overlap those of 3rd states (in particular Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe) The rights of 3rd states will become involve if the ICJ accedes to Cameroon’s request. [For that reason that contention was not decided as preliminary but reserved to the merits] Whether such third States would choose to exercise their rights to intervene …remains to be seen.