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Français

Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)

See also Application for Revision and Interpretation of the Judgment of 24 February 1982 in the Case concerning the Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) (Tunisia v. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)

Overview of the case

By a Special Agreement notified to the Court in 1978, it was asked to determine what principles and rules of international law were applicable to the delimitation as between Tunisia and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya of the respective areas of continental shelf appertaining to each. After considering arguments as well as evidence based on geology, physiography and bathymetry on the basis of which each party sought to support its claims to particular areas of the sea-bed as the natural prolongation of its land territory, the Court concluded, in a Judgment of 24 February 1982, that the two countries abutted on a common continental shelf and that physical criteria were therefore of no assistance for the purpose of delimitation. Hence it had to be guided by “equitable principles” (as to which it emphasized that this term cannot be interpreted in the abstract, but only as referring to the principles and rules which may be appropriate in order to achieve an equitable result) and by certain factors such as the necessity of ensuring a reasonable degree of proportionality between the areas allotted and the lengths of the coastlines concerned.

The Court found that the application of the equidistance method could not, in the particular circumstances of the case, lead to an equitable result. With respect to the course to be taken by the delimitation line, it distinguished two sectors : near the shore, it considered, having taken note of some evidence of historical agreement as to the maritime boundary, that the delimitation (beginning at the boundary point of Ras Adjir) should run in a north-easterly direction at an angle of approximately 26° ; further seawards, it considered that the line of delimitation should veer eastwards at a bearing of 52° to take into account the change of direction of the Tunisian coast to the north of the Gulf of Gabes and the existence of the Kerkennah Islands, to which a “half-effect” was attributed.

During the course of the proceedings, Malta requested permission to intervene, claiming an interest of a legal nature under Article 62 of the Court’s Statute. In view of the very character of the intervention for which permission was sought, the Court considered that the interest of a legal nature which Malta had invoked could not be affected by the decision in the case and that the request was not one to which, under Article 62, the Court might accede. It therefore rejected it.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Special Agreement

1 December 1978
Available in:
English French

Written proceedings

Memorial of Tunisia
(French version only)

27 May 1980
Available in:
French

Contre-mémoire de la Tunisie
(French version only)

1 December 1980
Available in:
French

Reply of Tunisia
(French version only)

15 July 1981
Available in:
French

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 1981

Oral Arguments on the Application for Permission to Intervene - Minutes of the Public Sittings held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, from 19 to 23 March and on 14 April 1981, President Sir Humphrey Waldock, presiding
Procedure(s): Intervention
Available in:
Original Language

Verbatim record 1981

Oral Arguments - Minutes of the Public Sittings held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, from 16 to 25 September 1981, Acting President Elias presiding
Available in:
Original Language

Verbatim record 1981

Oral Arguments (Concluded) - Minutes of the Public Sittings held from 29 September to 21 October 1981 and on 24 February 1982, Acting President Elias presiding
Available in:
Original Language

Other documents

Orders

Order of 20 February 1979

Fixing of time-limits: Memorials
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 3 June 1980

Fixing of time-limits: Counter-Memorials
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 16 April 1981

Fixing of time-limits: Replies
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 1981/1

Summary of the Judgment of 14 April 1981
Available in:
English French

Summary 1982/2

Summary of the Judgment of 24 February 1982
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 1978/7

1 December 1978
Tunisia and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya bring a case before the Court
Available in:
English French

Press release 1979/1

20 February 1979
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Time-limit for the filing of the Memorials
Available in:
English French

Press release 1980/8

10 June 1980
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Filing of Memorials and fixing of time-limits for Counter-Memorials
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/1

9 February 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Filing of Counter-Memorials by the Parties, and of an Application by the Government of Malta for permission to intervene
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/3

13 March 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Hearings to open on Thursday 19 March 1981 at 10 a.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/4

24 March 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - (Request by Malta for permission to intervene) - Closure of oral proceedings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/5

11 April 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Court to give its decision on Tuesday 14 April 1981
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/6

14 April 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Judgment of the Court
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/7

22 April 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Time-Limits fixed for the filing of Replies
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/11

10 September 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Hearing to open on Wednesday 16 September 1981 at 10 a.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/12

25 September 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Progress of the hearing
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/13

9 October 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Progress of the hearing
Available in:
English French

Press release 1981/14

21 October 1981
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Closure of the hearing
Available in:
English French

Press release 1982/5

18 February 1982
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Court to give its Judgment on Wednesday 24 February 1982
Available in:
English French

Press release 1982/6

24 February 1982
Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) - Judgment of the Court
Available in:
English French

Correspondence

Correspondence

1 December 1978
Correspondence
Available in:
English French