Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

International Law - I.C.J. Maintains High Evidentiary Standard in Granting Requests for Indication of Provisional Measures: Argentina V. Uruguay: Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures, January 23, 2007

Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

International Law - I.C.J. Maintains High Evidentiary Standard in Granting Requests for Indication of Provisional Measures: Argentina V. Uruguay: Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures, January 23, 2007

Article excerpt

In 2006, Argentina brought suit in the International Court of Justice (I.C.J.) claiming that Uruguayan-sanctioned pulp mill developments along the River Uruguay violated the Statute of the River Uruguay, a treaty entered into by both countries for the express purpose of optimizing river utilization and maintenance. (1) In response to the mill construction and consequent I.C.J. litigation, groups of Argentine citizens established blockades along major trans-border thoroughfares, prompting Uruguay to request I.C.J. provisional measures requiring Argentina to disband the citizen groups because the blockades were irreparably harming Uruguay's contested right to develop the mills. (2) In Argentina v. Uruguay: Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures, (3) the court considered whether the I.C.J. should grant Uruguay's requests for provisional measures even though Uruguay had introduced no evidence that the blockades directly affected mill development, but rather that the Argentine actions had a substantial affect on tourist travel therefore forcing Uruguay to choose between its tourism and industrial industries. (4) After establishing its jurisdiction to rule on the Uruguayan request, (5) the I.C.J. held that Uruguay had not produced sufficient evidence to demonstrate that either its tourism or industrial industries were suffering irreparable prejudice or harm. (6)

In 2003 and 2005, the Uruguayan government allegedly granted permission to various foreign developers to construct pulp mills along the banks of the River Uruguay. (7) In response to the industrial projects, Argentina brought an action against Uruguay in the I.C.J., claiming that Uruguay failed to comply with the procedures specified in the Statute of the River Uruguay, specifically the treaty's notification and consultation requirements. (8) Further, Argentina included a request for the I.C.J. to indicate provisional measures requiring Uruguay to take steps to suspend development of the various mill projects and refrain from taking further unilateral action until the I.C.J. has fully resolved the dispute. (9) The I.C.J. consequently denied Argentina's request for provisional measures, holding that Argentina had not introduced sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the mill construction would cause immediate irreparable damage to the aquatic environment of the River Uruguay. (10)

In November of 2006, Uruguay filed its own request for indication of provisional measures, claiming that groups of Argentine citizens had setup blockades along major roads and thoroughfares leading into Uruguay, thus impacting Uruguay's tourism revenue. (11) In the request, Uruguay asked the I.C.J. to require Argentina to disband the citizen groups and end the interruption of inter-country transit, as well as abstain from any other action which might prejudice Uruguay's rights until the I.C.J. resolved the overarching dispute. (12) In support of the provisional measures, Uruguay argued that by allowing its citizens to disrupt the flow of tourism into the country, Argentina was irreparably harming Uruguay by forcing it to choose between its industrial industry and its tourism industry. (13) Uruguay went on to argue that by allowing such behavior, Argentina was violating its obligations as a party to a court proceeding by failing to refrain from any actions which might render the present dispute more difficult to resolve. (14) In response, Argentina first challenged the jurisdiction of the court to grant Uruguay's request for provisional measures and then introduced evidence indicating that the blockades had not caused Uruguay irreparable harm to either development project. (15)

In 1975, Argentina and Uruguay entered into the Statute of the River Uruguay to define concurrent and exclusive jurisdiction along the river and establish mechanisms for joint use and co-habitation. (16) While the treaty primarily grants each country exclusive jurisdiction and control over its own riparian zone, it nonetheless includes some fairly broad provisions which apply to the entire river; directly affecting each country's use of its coastal lands. …

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