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Guyana v Suriname (2007), Arbitration under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (Link)

Facts:

2 of S’s naval patrol vessels ordered a drilling ship and its support vessels out of disputed waters claimed by both countries.

Issue(s):

Whether this action amounted to a use of force, and whether this use of force was a breach of international law

Ratio:

Treaties have to be interpreted on state practice and subsequent agreements.

Analysis:

** Guyana alleges a violation of art 2(3) and (4) of the Charter (therefore need not find a use of force, just a violation of an obligation to settle the dispute by peaceful means) --- S responds that it was merely an exercise of coastal law enforcement in waters that are its own
** It was unclear what exactly the orders by the S boats meant
** Therefore the order given was an explicit threat that force might be used if the order was not complied with
** There is a right to exercise law enforcement jurisdiction which includes boarding and inspecting, arrest and even a minimum use of force
** However, here the action was more consistent with a military action than mere law enforcement activity
** The action is not defensible as countermeasures, as the Draft Articles on state responsibility (reflective of CIL) clearly prohibit the use of force in countermeasures

Holding:

Threat of use of force found, and was not justified.


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