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World Court Digest

III. The International Court of Justice
2.3. The Optional Clause
2.3.1. General Questions

¤ Fisheries Jurisdiction
(Spain v. Canada)
Jurisdiction of the Court
Judgment of 4 December 1998
I.C.J.Reports 1998, p 432

[pp. 534-535 D.O. Bedjaoui] 46. In joining, the optional clause "system" through its declaration, a State enters freely into a network of specific rights and obligations. It is perfectly clear that its declaration is not totally devoid of implications for the scope of its rights and obligations. In this respect the declarant State will obviously enjoy vis-à-vis the Court - to which the declaration is addressed - and as regards the other declarant States less freedom than a State which has not accepted the Court's jurisdiction. In short, it has obligations vis-à-vis the clause "system" - those currently or potentially participating in it - and also to the party to whom that clause is ultimately addressed, namely the International Court. It is not entitled to provoke the implosion of a "system" to which it now owes duties, the counterpart of which are the rights it derives from it. The possibility of withdrawing from the system remains fully open to it, but what is not acceptable is that the declarant State should distort or pervert the system, or compromise its existence or its functioning, and yet remain part of it.