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World Court Digest

II. Substantive International Law - Second Part
1.2. Boundaries
1.2.4.Principle of "uti possidetis"

¤ Application of the Convention on the Prevention
and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
(Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia),
Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 11 July 1996,
I.C.J. Reports 1996, p. 595

What remains therefore, is the principle of effectiveness as a possible basis for the transformation of the administrative-territorial boundaries of the federal unit of Bosnia and Herzegovina into international borders. As this principle implies the effective, actual exercise of sovereign authority, and considering the scope of that authority of the central government in Sarajevo (see para. 18 below), it is beyond doubt that the mentioned transformation of boundaries on the basis of the principle of effectiveness did not occur.


Outside the colonial context to which the reasoning of the Court applies in the Frontier Dispute case, the principle of uti possidetis in positive international law can only have the meaning which corresponds to the original meaning of that principle as expressed in the formula "uti possidetis, ita posideatur", i.e., the meaning of the principle of effectiveness.