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III. The International Court of Justice
2.3. The Optional Clause
2.3.4. Interpretation of a Declaration made under
Article 36, Paragraph 2, of the Statute

¤ Arbitral Award of 31 July 1989,
Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1991, p. 53

[pp. 61-62] 22. The Court will first consider its jurisdiction. In its Application, Guinea-Bissau founds the jurisdiction of the Court on "the Declarations by which the Republic of Guinea-Bissau and the Republic of Senegal have respectively accepted the jurisdiction of the Court under the conditions set forth in Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute" of the Court. These declarations were deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in the case of Senegal on 2 December 1985, and in the case of Guinea-Bissau on 7 August 1989. Guinea-Bissau's declaration contained no reservation; Senegal's declaration, which replaced a previous declaration of 3 May 1985, provided that

"Senegal may reject the Court's competence in respect of:
-Disputes in regard to which the parties have agreed to have recourse to some other method of settlement;
-Disputes with regard to questions which, under international law, fall exclusively within the jurisdiction of Senegal."

That declaration was also expressed as being applicable solely to "all legal disputes arising after the present declaration..."

23. Senegal observed that if Guinea-Bissau were to challenge the decision of the Arbitration Tribunal on the merits, it would be raising a question excluded from the Court's jurisdiction by the terms of Senegal's declaration. According to Senegal, the dispute concerning the maritime delimitation was the subject of the Arbitration Agreement of 12 March 1985 and consequently fell into the category of disputes "in regard to which the parties have agreed to have recourse to some other method of settlement". Furthermore, in the view of Senegal, that dispute arose before 2 December 1985, the date on which Senegal's acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court became effective, and is thus excluded from the category of disputes "arising after" that declaration.

24. However, the Parties were agreed that there was a distinction between the substantive dispute relating to maritime delimitation, and the dispute relating to the Award rendered by the Arbitration Tribunal, and that only the latter dispute, which arose after the Senegalese declaration, is the subject of the present proceedings before the Court. Guinea-Bissau also took the position, which Senegal accepted, that these proceedings were not intended by way of appeal from the Award or as an application for revision of it. Thus, both Parties recognize that no aspect of the substantive delimitation dispute is involved. On this basis, Senegal did not dispute that the Court had jurisdiction to entertain the Application under Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute. In the circumstances of the case the Court regards its jurisdiction as established.