Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 9 Guinea-Bissau v. Senegal (Arbitral Award, 31 July 1989)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Continental shelf — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
This chapter concerns a case involving Guinea-Bissau and Sengal. Guinea-Bissau and Senegal are adjacent States situated on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. The maritime delimitation dispute between the parties of this case emerged after they had gained independence from the former colonial powers of France and Portugal. The Guinea-Bissau/Senegal case, this chapter concludes, is an early (and relatively little-cited) example of settlement of an international maritime boundary dispute by way of ad hoc arbitration. It is notable perhaps for its confirmation of the application of the principles of uti possidetis and intertemporal law in the context of post-colonial maritime boundaries and for the post-Award proceedings by which Guinea-Bissau attempted to have the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declare the Award inexistent, null, and void. From a practical perspective, the Guinea-Bissau/Senegal case, the chapter finally argues, highlights the importance of the clear and precise formulation of the question or questions to be posed to any court or tribunal.