130-Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore)

On July 24th, 2003, Malaysia and Singapore seised the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in accordance with a special agreement signed by both States on February 6th, 2003. They decided to submit to the Court the question of the sovereignty over the islands of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

In its judgement of May 23rd, 2008, the ICJ considered to status of each of these territories and ruled that with regard to:

  1. Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh: the Sultanate of Johor (predecessor of Malaysia) held the original title to this land. However, the title had passed to Singapore over time, as evidenced by the behaviour of the two States. From that point, sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh had to revert to Singapore;
  2. Middle Rocks: this maritime formation was also originally the possession of the Sultanate of Johor. However, unlike Pedra Branca, nothing seemed to indicate that the original title ever changed ownership. The ICJ therefore concluded that Malaysia, as successor to the Sultanate would exercise its sovereignty over the maritime formation;
  3. South Ledge: the territory was located within the apparently overlapping territorial waters generated both by Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh and Middle Rocks. As the Court’s mandate did not extend to the delimitation of territorial waters, the ICJ simply concluded that sovereignty over South Ledge rested with the State in whose territorial waters it lies.
Judgment of 23-05-2008.pdf

This summary of the facts of this case and the proceedings is only proposed for informational purposes, does not engage Dome in any way and cannot replace the careful reading of the judgments and orders of the case.