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World Court Digest

I. Substantive International Law - First Part
5.12.Regional Arrangements

¤ Land and Maritime Boundary
between Cameroon and Nigeria,
Preliminary Objections, Judgment,
I.C.J. Reports 1998, p. 275

[pp. 306-307] 66. In the light of the treaty texts and the practice thus recalled, the Court will consider the positions of the Parties on this matter. For its part, Nigeria first of all contends that "the role and Statute of the Commission" must be understood "in the framework of regional agencies" referred to in Article 52 of the United Nations Charter. It accordingly concludes that "the Commission has an exclusive power in relation to issues of security and public order in the region of Lake Chad and that these issues appropriately encompass the business of boundary demarcation".
Cameroon argues, for its part, that the Commission does not constitute a regional arrangement or agency within the meaning of Article 52 of the Charter, pointing in particular to the fact that
"there has never been any question of extending this category to international regional organizations of a technical nature which, like the [Commission], can include a mechanism for the peaceful settlement of disputes or for the promotion of that kind of settlement".

67. The Court notes that Article 52, paragraph 1, of the Charter refers to "regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action". According to paragraph 2 of that Article,

"[t]he Members of the United Nations entering into such arrangements or constituting such agencies shall make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements or by such regional agencies before referring them to the Security Council".

Under Article 53, the Security Council may use these arrangements or agencies for "enforcement action under its authority".

From the treaty texts and the practice analysed at paragraphs 64 and 65 above, it emerges that the Lake Chad Basin Commission is an international organization exercising its powers within a specific geographical area; that it does not however have as its purpose the settlement at a regional level of matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security and thus does not fall under Chapter VIII of the Charter.
68. However, even were it otherwise, Nigeria's argument should nonetheless be set aside. In this connection, the Court notes that, in the case concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua, it did not consider that the Contadora process could "properly be regarded as a 'regional arrangement' for the purposes of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter". But it added that, in any event,

"the Court is unable to accept either that there is any requirement of prior exhaustion of regional negotiating processes as a precondition to seising the Court; or that the existence of the Contadora process constitutes in this case an obstacle to the examination by the Court of the Nicaraguan Application" (Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States Of America), Jurisdiction and Admissibility, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 440).
Whatever their nature, the existence of procedures for regional negotiation cannot prevent the Court from exercising the functions conferred upon it by the Charter and the Statute.