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World Court Digest

III. The International Court of Justice
1.6. Applicable Law

¤ Frontier Dispute, Judgment
(Burkina Faso/Republic of Mali)
I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 554

[p. 575] It must be recalled in this connection that the Chamber, whose judgment "shall be considered as rendered by the Court" (Statute, Art. 27), is bound to settle the present dispute "in accordance with international law" (Art. 38). Accordingly, it is on the basis of international law that the Chamber will have to fix the frontier line, weighing for that purpose the legal force of the respective evidence submitted by the Parties for its appraisal. It is therefore of little significance whether Mali adopted a particular approach, either in the course of negotiations on frontier questions, or with respect to the conclusions of the Legal Sub-Commission of the Organization of African Unity Mediation Commission, and whether that approach may or may not be construed to reflect a specific position, or indeed to signify acquiescence, towards the principles and rules, including those which determine the respective weight of the various kinds of evidence applicable to the dispute. If these principles and rules are applicable as elements of law in the present case, they remain so whatever Mali's attitude. If the reverse is true, the Chamber could only take account of them if the two Parties had requested it to do so, or had given such principles and rules a special place in the Special Agreement, as "rules expressly recognized by the contesting States" (Art. 38, para. 1 (a), of the Statute).

"While the Court is... bound to have regard to all the legal sources specified in Article 38, paragraph 1, of the Statute... it is also bound, in accordance with paragraph 1 (a), of that Article, to apply the provisions of the Special Agreement." (I.C.J. Reports 1982, p. 37; para. 23.)