ICJ: Question of Continental Shelf Delimitation (Nicaragua v. Colombia) Order

By Order of 4 October 2022 in the Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 Nautical Miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia) the International Court of Justice issued a decision on the organisation of the public hearings. Having regard to Article 48 of the ICJ Statute and to Articles 54(1) and 61(1) of the Rules of Court the ICJ stated and decided that:

Whereas, in the circumstances of the case, before proceeding to any consideration of technical and scientific questions in relation to the delimitation of the continental shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured, the Court considers it necessary to decide on certain questions of law, after hearing the Parties thereon,


Decides that, at the forthcoming oral proceedings in the case, the Republic of Nicaragua and the Republic of Colombia shall present their arguments exclusively with regard to the following two questions:


(1) Under customary international law, may a State’s entitlement to a continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of its territorial sea is measured extend within 200 nautical miles from the baselines of another State?

(2) What are the criteria under customary international law for the determination of the limit of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured and, in this regard, do paragraphs 2 to 6 of Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea reflect customary international law? and

Reserves the subsequent procedure for further decision.

Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 Nautical Miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia), Order of 4 October 2022, pp. 2-3

As noted in both of the two declarations appended to the Order, the division of the oral proceedings on the merits into two separate parts was previously unprecedented. The Joint Declaration of Judges Tomka, Xue, Robinson, Nolte and Judge ad hoc Skotnikov offers critical reflection on the Order of 4 October 2022, while the Declaration of Judge Abraham is supportive of the Order of 4 October 2022. For further information see the ICJ Press Release No. 2022/49.

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