Territorial Disputes

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Essequibo referendum: An unlawful threat of force?

Essequibo (or Guayana Esequiba according to Venezuela) is an oil rich region given to Guyana by the 1899 Paris Arbitral Award. It amounts to approximately two thirds of Guyana’s territory. Since the early 1960s, Venezuela disputed the validity of the arbitral award and laid claim to the territory. In 1966, the Geneva Agreement was signed which provided for the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes. Article IV of the Agreement conferred on the UN Secretary-General the power to choose the most appropriate dispute settlement mechanism. In 2018, the Secretary-General chose judicial settlement by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Following this, Guyana filed an application to the ICJ which in 2020 decided that it has jurisdiction to entrain the application in so far as it ‘concerns the validity of the 1899 Award and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute’ between Guyana and Venezuela. Venezuela raised objections which were  held inadmissible in 2023. On October…

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Unpacking Sovereignty and Self-determination in ITLOS and the ICC: A Bundle of Rights?

In a short space of time, two international courts have handed down rather dramatic decisions related to the contested issues of self-determination and sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago and Palestine, which have, for a very long time now, been under the UK and Israeli occupation respectively. On 28 January 2021, an ITLOS Special Chamber found…

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Air Navigation in Abkhazia: Another Inter-State Litigation between Georgia and Russia in the Making?

In November 2020 the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, held a meeting with the head of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia to discuss relations between Russia and the de facto entity. According to the Abkhaz leader, an agreement was reached to restore the functioning of the Sokhumi airport. Russian plans to renovate the airport…

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An Irish Claim to Rockall

Due to Brexit, dispute has again arisen between the UK and Ireland over Rockall, a small rock in the North-East Atlantic Ocean, and its surrounding waters. On January 4th a Marine Scotland patrol boat stopped and boarded an Irish fishing trawler, forcing it to leave waters within 12 nautical miles of the rock. Scotland asserted the UK…

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The Recent Ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh: Territorial Control, Peacekeepers and Question of Status

The nine-point ceasefire agreement signed by the president of Azerbaijan, the prime minister of Armenia and the president of the Russian Federation on 9 November 2020 ended 44 days of hostilities that claimed more than 5000 lives. It also transformed the status quo existing in the South Caucasus since the 1994 Bishkek Ceasefire Agreement, which ended the…

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