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Summaries of the Decisions

Case Concerning the Arbitral Award of 31 July 1989

(Guinea-Bissau v. Senegal) Order of 2 March 1990

In 1960 France and Portugal concluded an Agreement for the purpose of defining the maritime boundary between Senegal - at that time an autonomous State within the Communauté - and the Portuguese Province of Guinea. After the accession to independance of Senegal and Guinea-Bissau a dispute arose between the two States concerning the delimitation of their maritime territories. The two States submitted this dispute to an Arbitration Tribunal which had to decide on the following questions:
1) whether the Agreement of 1960 had the force of law between the Parties; and
2) in the event of a negative answer, to define the course of the line delimiting the maritime territories of the two States.

By its decision of 31 July 1989 the Arbitration Tribunal stated that the Agreement of 1960 had force of law in relation to the Parties.

Interim measures of Protection,
Order of 2 March 1990

By a request of 23 August 1989 Guinea-Bissau had instituted proceedings against Senegal concerning the existence and validity of the arbitral award of 31 July 1989. The main reason advanced by Guinea-Bissau was the fact that one of the two arbitrators making up the appearance of a majority in favour of the text of the award had, by a declaration appended to it, expressed a view in contradition with the one apparently adopted by the vote.

On 18 January 1990, Guinea-Bissau, on the ground of actions stated to have been taken by Senegal in a maritime area which Guinea-Bissau regarded as an area disputed between the Parties, requested the Court to indicate the following provisional measures:

"In order to safeguard the rights of each of the Parties, they shall abstain in the disputed area from any act or action of any kind whatever during the whole duration of the proceedings until the decision given by the Court."

By fourteen votes to one the Court dismissed the request for the reason that the subject matter of the request for provisional measures was not the same as that of the proceedings before the Court on the merits of the case. By the provisional measures Guinea-Bissau sought to protect the respective rights of the Parties in the maritime areas in question while the Application asked the Court to declare the 1989 award to be inexistent or, subsidiarily, null and void and thus inapplicable. Thus, the requested measures could not be subsumed under the Court's judgment on the merits as is required by Article 41 of the Statute of the Court. Moreover, as the decision of the Court on the merits stating the invalidity of the award would not entail any decision as to the Applicant's claim in respect of the disputed maritime delimination, the necessary link between the subject matter of the request for interim measures and the request on the merits was lacking.

While the proceedings on the merits were still pending before the Court, Guinea-Bissau brought a new claim against Senegal on 12 March 1991 concerning the delimination of the maritime territories between the two States.