051- North Sea Continental Shelf (Germany vs Denmark)

On February 20th, 1967, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was seized by way of Special Agreement of a dispute concerning the delimitation of the continental shelf of the North Sea between Germany and Denmark. In particular, it was asked to answer the following question:

“What principles and rules of international law are applicable to the delimitation as between the Parties of the areas of the continental shelf in the North Sea which appertain to each of them beyond the partial boundary determined by the above-mentioned Convention of June 9th, 1965?”

By order of 26 April 26th, 1968 the Court, finding that Denmark and the Netherlands were in common cause, joined the two cases. It ruled on the merits of both cases in its judgment of 20 February 1969 and considered that:

  1. The equidistance method was not necessarily applicable in the present case;
  2. The principles and rules to be applied in the delimitation of the continental shelf of each State are as follows:
    • Taking into account all the relevant circumstances (general configuration of the coasts, the physical and geological structure, the natural resources …) and equitable principles, so as to allocate to each Party, as far as possible, all the areas of the continental shelf which constitute the natural extension of its territory, and do not encroach on the natural extension of the territory of the other;
    • In the event of overlapping zones, States must favour an equitable division by agreement or, failing that, by equal shares.

Judgment of 20-02-1969.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.