Chad Vs Libya Territorial Dispute Of the Aouzo Strip

The Aouzo strip was a barren land between the border of Chad and Libya and both countries were claiming it. Chad was claiming the strip because the border was fixed by the treaty of friendship and good neighborliness between Libya and France but not between Libya and Chad.

Chad further alleged that the treaty included a formal acceptance by Libya’s France claims to the borders of its colonial possessions in Africa. The borders had been the subject of earlier agreements between Italy and Britain. Chad claimed that the 1955 treaty that recognized the validity of these previous colonial agreements still bound Libya.

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Libya on the other claimed title not only to the strip but also to significance amounts of territory south of it, based on variety of assertions including the invalidity of the 1955 treaty which France illegally coerced Libya’s king into signing, the lack of any recognition in the treaty of the Chad –Libyan border in particular; the allegiance of Libya to various inhabitants of the region and prior title to the territory held by the Ottoman Empire and Italy, the predecessor colonial power to Libya.

Libya supported a rebellion by inhabitants of northern Chad against an already weak central government to assert its claims. After the central government lost control of the strip, local leaders allowed Libyan military personnel into the area, following which it set up a de facto administration of the region. Diplomatic negotiations through out the 1970s by OAU failed to reach a solution.

In 1980 when Chad’s civil war intensified, Libya invaded a large area of Chad out side the strip, captured the capital, N’Djamena and ousted the official government in favor of its pro Libyan rival. Libya and the new government even discussed the merger of the two states. OAU strongly condemned this invasion and threatened to cancel its scheduled summit to take place in Tripoli. It is then that Libya agreed to pull its trips out of much of the country.

In 1983, the Chadian government appealed to UN Security Council to demand Libya’s total withdrawal. The Soviet Union vetoed a UN resolution calling for withdrawal. Chad succeeded in ousting the Libyan military from northern Chad- except for the strip- in a lightning action in august 1987.

After two more years of OAU sponsored negation and mediation, the two states agreed to settle the dispute by political means within one year or if they failed to do so, to summit it for determination at the ICJ, in The Hague. In 1990, after negotiations failed, the two states asked the court to determine their mutual border in accordance with principles of international law.

The primary actors in the Libyan Chad dispute are former colonial masters i.e. France, Italy and Britain who established the treaty of friendiship and good neighborliness. The 1955 treaty is also a primary actor because it recognized validity of previous colonial agreements. The secondary actors are the two countries in the conflict i.e. Chad and Libya.

The main governing legal instruments include the OAU and the ICJ in The Hague. The 1955 treaty of friendship and good neighborliness is also an instrument in this case because it provides the guidelines and principles which were to be adhered to by parties which entered the treaty.

A part from the OAU, the UN Security Council and ICJ no other institution or people were involved in arbitration. The ICJ relied heavily on a French colonial map of 1899. The line from the 1919 France- Britain agreement, combined with the line resulting from the France. Italy agreement determined the border, as Chad had claimed.

The court further considered the attitude of the two parties involved in the conflict. Before the matter got into international arena, Libya had not made any complaint. During this period France submitted reports of this territory to the UN General Assembly. The 1955 report showed the area of Chad’s territory as 1284000 km2 which expressly includes the Aouzou strip. Libya did not challenge the territorial dimension of Chad as set out by France. The ICJ ruled that Chad’s area was 1284000 which include the Aouzou strip.

Libya and Chad agreed to abide by the ruling and in April 1994 they reached an agreement on the practicalities of the Libyan withdrawal, removal of mines and demarcation of the border. A team of UN observers was called to monitor the withdrawal. On May 30, in accordance with the withdrawal schedule previously agreed upon, Libya completed its withdrawal and the UN certified the result.

The case rainbow warrior

The Rainbow Warrior was a converted research trawler bought by an NGO called Greenpeace. Rainbow Warrior was used to publicize protests against commercial whaling practices, the dumping of nuclear wastes in the oceans and off shore oil and gas operations.

The rainbow warrior was bombed by members of the French Directorate General of External Security (DGSE) which docked in Auckland harbor, New Zealand. The ensuing explosion resulted in the sinking and total destruction of the ship and death of Fernando Pereira, a Dutch crew member. The vessel had been scheduled to protest upcoming French under ground nuclear testing in the Atoll.

The sinking of the vessel made France to start restricting certain New Zealand exports to French and French territories. France also began to link the Rainbow Warrior dispute to the question of future access to the European community of New Zealand economy. In response New Zealand filled a formal complaint to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The contentious issue was the fate of major Mafart and captain Prieur. The ICJ ruled that the agents be taken to a military facility of French away from Europe for a period not less than 36 months. They were to stay to the island until both countries could give permission for them to leave. The court further stated that French should submit reports of the two to the government of New Zealand and UN General Assembly. The New Zealand government was free to visit the island with an agreed third party (Thomson 122).

France failed to comply by the ruling but manipulated the system and gave lame excuses to remove the two agents from the island before the end of their three year term they were supposed to stay on the island. The tribunal set to arbitrate on the case ruled that a financial kitty be established and France begins by contributing $2,000, 000 to enhance peaceful coexistence among the citizens of the two countries. France complied with this condition and donated the money.

The main actor in this conflict was an NGO called Greenpeace and the French government. New Zealand was a secondary actor in the case while the governing legal instruments used for deciding the case were the ICJ and the arbitral tribunal provided in paragraph 5 of Secretary General’s ruling. No other people/institution was involved in the process of arbitration a part from the family of Fernando Pereira that was compensated by the French government.

Comparison of the cases

The two are different in terms of actors involved because the Libya-Chad case revolves around a stronger state (Libya) trying to undermine the territorial integrity of a weaker state (Chad) by taking advantage of civil unrest to claim parts of its geographical area. In this case also the government of Libya accepted to abide the ruling of the ICJ because of fear of international sanctions from the Security Council.

The channel of arbitration is also different because in Libyan – Chadian case the parties did not seek the indulgence of local courts to solve the dispute instead they relied on international bodies like the ICJ and OAU to solve their dispute. This could be based on the fact that the courts in these countries are not independent and prone to manipulation by the executive.

In the case of the rainbow warrior however, both countries had independent judicial systems but the difference was in the laws. The means of arbitration and the governing legal instruments are similar in both cases i.e. the use of the UN Security Council (Azevedo 58).

It is possible to consider the first case as representing a more traditional (classic) approach to international law because there was no difference in law over the issue but only a matter of proving that a territory belongs to the country. In this case Chad proved beyond doubt that the territory in question was hers.

The second case can be considered a move towards more “contemporary” modus operandi to international law because the two countries had laws that contradicted each other over the issue of committing a crime on official orders.

Works Cited

Azevedo, Mario. Roots of Violence: A History of War in Chad, New York: Rutledge, 1998. Print.

Thomson, Janice. Mercenaries, pirates, and sovereigns: state-building and extraterritorial violence in early modern Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Pres, 1996. Print.

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