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World Court Digest

III. The International Court of Justice
2.2. Conditions for a Decision on the Merits
2.2.2. Necessity of Diplomatic Negotiations

¤ Land, Island and
Maritime Frontier Dispute
(El Salvador/Honduras)
Application to Intervene,
Judgment of 13 September 1990,
I.C.J. Reports 1990, p. 92

[pp. 113-114] Finally, El Salvador relies on the fact that there has been "no discussion whatsoever between Nicaragua and either of the original Parties regarding the position of the Gulf of Fonseca". Therefore, it is argued, it is premature to bring such issues before the Chamber, and counter to the established rule "that before proceedings are brought in the Court, there must be a defined dispute which... has matured through the process of negotiation between the parties".
The Chamber does not consider that there is any requirement for the definition of a dispute in prior negotiations before an application can be made for permission to intervene. The function of intervention is, as indicated in the 1984 Judgment on the Application of Italy for permission to intervene in the case concerning the Continental Shelf (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya/Malta), and as explained below, something wholly different from the determination of a further dispute between the State seeking to intervene and one or both of the parties. In that Judgment the Court found that that Application could not be granted because, inter alia, to give effect to it "the Court would be called upon... to determine a dispute, or some part of a dispute, between Italy and one or both of the principal Parties" (I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 20, para. 31), without the consent of those parties. It would therefore be inappropriate to require, as a condition of intervention, the existence of such a dispute, defined by prior negotiations.