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The Qatar v. Bahrain Maritime Delimitation and Territorial Questions Case

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During the decade-long Qatar v. Bahrain proceedings, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rendered two Judgments on jurisdiction and admissibility (1994–1995), followed by its decision not to rely on the 82 Qatar documents challenged by Bahrain (1999), and by Judgment on the merits (2001). This article surveys how these complex proceedings led to settlement of a long-standing dispute in the Arabian/Persian Gulf to the satisfaction of both parties and how have they enriched the contributions of the Court to the development of international law.

The contributions of the two Qatar v. Bahrain (Jurisdiction and Admissibility) Judgments, including their Opinions, are highlighted in the context of important issues pertaining to the interpretation of treaties and various aspects of the jurisdiction conferred upon the ICJ by a "framework agreement" (as distinct from a compromis). The analysis of the Qatar v. Bahrain (Merits) Judgment, including its Opinions, substantiates the significant consolidation and further development—in continuation of the formidable jurisprudence of the ICJ and other tribunals, notably the Eritrea/ Yemen Arbitral Tribunal—of the principles and rules governing the acquisition of territorial sovereignty and maritime boundary delimitation.
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