Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 5 Tunisia v. Libya (Judgment of the International Court of Justice, 24 February 1982)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Continental shelf — Delimitation — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
This chapter begins by setting the context of this case. Tunisia and Libya are situated on the northern coastline of the African continent fronting the Mediterranean Sea. The States’ most proximate coastlines are adjacent, with Tunisia lying to the west and Libya to its east and south-east. The delimitation of this case was concerned with the area of the continental shelf lying to the north of the coast on each side of Ras Ajdir. The chapter concludes by assessing the importance of this case. The judgment includes an interesting passage about the role of equity and equitable principles in continental shelf delimitation that still holds true today. The court’s approach of dividing the delimitation area into two sectors, each of which would be treated separately utilizing different delimitation methods, was sensible in the circumstances and has become relatively commonplace in subsequent jurisprudence.