1932

PCIJ

Free Zones of Upper Savoy and the District of Gex Case France v. Switzerland

1815 Congress of Vienna, after the defeat of Napoleon, it was accorded, without Switzerland, its perpetual neutrality in her new frontiers. France would not levy customs duties upon goods crossing into Switzerland from the District of Gex. Switzerland acceded to the Declaration and the arrangements were known as the free zones. After the IWW, art 435 T. Versailles, which did not include Switzerland, said that the free zones were no longer consistent with the present conditions, and that France and Switzerland had to make an agreement to settle the status of those territories. France wanted to abolish the free zones unilaterally. The arbitral agreement stated that after having discussed a reached a conclusion on the issue the PCIJ would inform the parties and fix a time limit so they can settle the dispute, if failure then the PCIJ would render the award. The PCIJ after having reached the conclusion that Versailles did not abrogate the rights of Switzerland, and in the order where it was fixed the time limit discussed power ex aequo et bono

Art 435 of the Treaty of Versailles is not binding upon Switzerland which is not a party to the Treaty except to the extent to which that country accepted it, the case was that Switzerland did not accepted it. It follows that the creation of the Gex zone forms part of a territorial arrangement in favour of Switzerland, made as a result of an agreement between that country and the Powers, including France, which agreement confers on this zone the character of a contract to which Switzerland is a Party. It cannot be lightly presumed that stipulations favourable to a 3rd State have been adopted with the object of creating an actual right in its favour, there is however nothing to prevent the will of sovereign States from having this object and this effect. The question of existence of a right acquired under an instrument drawn between other states is to be decided in each particular case. (10) Assuming that it was not incompatible with the court’s Statute for the parties to give the court power to prescribe a settlement disregarding rights recognised by it and taking into account consideration of pure expediency only, such power, which would be of an absolute exceptional character, could only be derived from a clear and explicit prohibition to that effect, which is not to be found in the special agreement