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    Judgment - Jurisdiction of the Court

    1.
    By a letter of 10 August 1976, received in the Registry of the Court the same day, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic transmitted to the Registrar an Application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Turkey in respect of a dispute concerning the delimitation of the continental shelf appertaining to Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea, and the rights of the parties thereover. In order to found the jurisdiction of the Court, the Application relied on, firstly, Article 17 of the General Act for the Pacific Settlement of Internationa] Disputes of 1928, read together with Article 36, paragraph 1, and Article 37 of the Statute of the Court; and secondly, a joint communiqué issued at Brussels on 31 May 1975, following an exchange of views between the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey.
    2.
    Pursuant to Article 40, paragraph 2, of the Statute, the Application was at once communicated to the Government of Turkey. In accordance with paragraph 3 of that Article, all other States entitled to appear before the Court were notified of the Application.
    3.
    Pursuant to Article 31, paragraph 3, of the Statute of the Court, the Government of Greece chose Mr. Michel Stassinopoulos, former President of the Hellenic Republic, former President of the Council of State, to sit as judge ad hoc in the case. The Government of Turkey did not seek to exercise the right conferred on it by that Article to choose a judge ad hoc.
    4.
    On 10 August 1976, the same day as the Application was filed, the Agent of Greece filed in the Registry of the Court a request for the indication of interim measures of protection under Article 33 of the General Act of 1928 for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, Article 41 of the Statute, and Article 66 of the Rules of Court as adopted on 6 May 1946 and amended on 10 May 1972.
    5.
    On 26 August 1976, a letter, dated 25 August 1976, was received in the Registry from the Secretary-General of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, enclosing the "Observations of the Government of Turkey on the request by the Government of Greece for provisional measures of protection dated The Hague, 10 August 1976". In these observations, the Turkish Government, inter alia, contended that the Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the Application.
    6.
    By an Order dated 11 September 1976, the Court, after finding that the circumstances were not then such as to require the exercise of its power under Article 41 of the Statute to indicate interim measures of protection, decided that the written proceedings should first be addressed to the question of the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the dispute.
    7.
    By an Order dated 14 October 1976 the President of the Court fixed time-limits for the written proceedings on the question of jurisdiction, namely, 18 April 1977 for the filing of a Memorial by Greece, and 24 October 1977 for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by Turkey. By a further Order dated 18 April 1977, at the request of Greece these time-limits were extended by the President to 18 July 1977 and 24 April 1978 respectively. The Memorial of the Government of Greece was filed within the extended time-limit fixed therefor, and was communicated to the Government of Turkey. No Counter-Memorial was filed by the Government of Turkey and, the written proceedings being thus closed, the case was ready for hearing on 25 April 1978, the day following the expiration of the time-limit fixed for the Counter-Memorial of Turkey.
    8.
    On 24 April 1978, the date fixed for the filing of the Counter-Memorial of Turkey, a letter dated the same day was received in the Registry from the Ambassador of Turkey to the Netherlands, in which it was stated, inter alia, that it was evident that the Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the Greek Appli-cation in the circumstances in which it was seised thereof, and that consequently the Government of Turkey did not intend to appoint an agent or file a CounterMemorial.
    9.
    On 25 April 1978, the Court, taking account of a request by the Government of Greece, fixed 4 October 1978 as the date for the opening of the oral proceedings on the question of the jurisdiction of the Court. On 11 September 1978, a request was made by Greece that the opening of the oral proceedings be postponed for a substantial period. The Court, after taking into account the views of both interested States and the course of the proceedings since the Application was filed, considered that such a postponement was not justified and that the hearings, being limited to the question whether the Court had jurisdiction to entertain the dispute, did not affect the issues of substance dividing the parties, which were the subject of negotiations between them. Consequently, the Court decided to defer the opening of the oral proceedings only until 9 October 1978.
    10.
    On 9,10, 11, 12,13, 16 and 17 October 1978, public hearings were held, in the course of which the Court heard the oral argument, on the question of the Court’s jurisdiction, advanced by Mr. Sotirios Konstantopoulos, Agent of Greece, Mr. Constantin Economides, Agent, advocate and counsel, and Mr. Daniel O’Connell, Q.C., Mr. Roger Pinto, Mr. Paul De Visscher, Mr. Prosper Weil and Mr. Dimitrios Evrigenis, counsel, on behalf of the Government of Greece. The Turkish Government was not represented at the hearings.
    11.
    The Government of Burma requested that the pleadings and annexed documents in the case should be made available to it in accordance with Article 48, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court. Greece and Turkey having been consulted, and no objection having been made to the Court, it was decided to accede to the request.
    12.
    In the course of the written proceedings, the following submissions were presented on behalf of the Government of Greece:

    in the Application:

    "The Government of Greece requests the Court to adjudge and declare:

    (i) that the Greek islands referred to in paragraph 29 [of the Application], as part of the territory of Greece, are entitled to the portion of the continental shelf which appertains to them according to the applicable principles and rules of international law;

    (ii) what is the course of the boundary (or boundaries) between the portions of the continental shelf appertaining to Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea in accordance with the principles and rules of international law which the Court shall determine to be applicable to the delimitation of the continental shelf in the aforesaid areas of the Aegean Sea;

    (iii) that Greece is entitled to exercise over its continental shelf sovereign and exclusive rights for the purpose of researching and exploring it and exploiting its natural resources;

    (iv) that Turkey is not entitled to undertake any activities on the Greek continental shelf, whether by exploration, exploitation, research or otherwise, without the consent of Greece;

    (v) that the activities of Turkey described in paragraphs 25 and 26 [of the Application] constitute infringements of the sovereign and exclusive rights of Greece to explore and exploit its continental shelf or to authorize scientific research respecting the continental shelf;

    (vi) that Turkey shall not continue any further activities as described above in subparagraph (iv) within the areas of the continental shelf which the Court shall adjudge appertain to Greece."

    in the Memorial:

    "... the Government of Greece requests the Court to adjudge and declare that, whether, on the basis of Article 17 of the General Act for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, 1928, read with Articles 36, paragraph 2, and 37 of the Statute of the Court, or on the basis of the joint communiqué of Brussels dated 31 May 1975, the Court is competent to entertain the dispute between Greece and Turkey on the subject of the delimitation of the continental shelf appertaining to the two countries in the Aegean Sea".

    13.
    At the close of the oral proceedings, the following written submission was filed in the Registry of the Court on behalf of the Government of Greece:

    "The Government of Greece submits that the Court be pleased to declare itself competent to entertain the dispute between Greece and Turkey on the delimitation of the respective areas of continental shelf appertaining to either country in the Aegean."

    14.
    No pleadings were filed by the Government of Turkey, and it was not represented at the oral proceedings; no formal submissions were therefore made by that Government. The attitude of the Government of Turkey with regard to the question of the Court’s jurisdiction has however been defined in its communications to the Court of 25 August 1976, 24 April 1978, and 10 October 1978. The last-mentioned communication was received in the Registry on the morning of the second day of the public hearings, and was transmitted to the Agent of Greece by the Registrar later the same day. In these circumstances account can be taken of its contents only to the extent that the Court finds appropriate in discharging its duty, under Article 53 of the Statute, to satisfy itself as to its jurisdiction to entertain the Application.
    16.
    Towards the end of 1973 the Turkish Government granted licences to carry out exploration for petroleum in submarine areas of the Aegean Sea, including areas which encroached upon the continental shelf which, according to the Greek Government, appertains to certain Greek islands. By a Note Verbale of 7 February 1974, the Greek Government, basing itself on international law as codified by Articles 1 (b) and 2 of the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf, questioned the validity of the licences granted by Turkey, reserved its sovereign rights over the continental shelf adjacent to the coasts of the said islands, and contended that the continental shelf required to be delimited between the two States on a basis of equidistance by means of a median line. The Turkish Government replied, by a Note Verbale of 27 February 1974, that "the Greek Islands situated very close to the Turkish coast do not possess a [continental] shelf of their own", and disputed the applicability of the principle of equidistance; while reserving its rights, it stated that it considered it appropriate to seek' by means of agreement a solution in conformity with the rules of international law. In its reply of 24 May 1974, the Greek Government indicated that it was not opposed to a delimitation based on the provisions of present day positive international law, "as codified by the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf"; the Turkish Government in its turn, on 5 June 1974, stated that it was the duty of the two Governments to use every endeavour to bring about agreed solutions of the various problems arising by reason of the fact that they were neighbours in the Aegean Sea; it expressed readiness to enter into negotiations for the delimitation of the continental shelf between the two countries.
    17.
    On 29 May 1974 the Turkish vessel Candarli began a programme of exploration in waters which were wholly or partly superjacent to the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea which, according to the Greek Government, appertains to Greece. The Greek Government, in a Note of 14 June 1974, observed that this exploration was a breach of Greece’s exclusive sovereign rights and lodged a vigorous protest. The Turkish Government, in its reply of 4 July 1974, refused to accept the Greek protest. Another protest in respect of further licences for exploration was made by Greece on 22 August 1974; Turkey refused to accept it on 16 September 1974, and repeated the suggestion of negotiations.
    18.
    On 27 January 1975 the Greek Government proposed to the Turkish Government that the differences over the applicable law as well as over the substance of the matter be referred to the International Court of Justice, and it stated that, without prejudice to its right to initiate Court proceedings unilaterally, it saw considerable advantages in reaching jointly with the Turkish Government a special agreement for reference to the Court. On 6 February 1975 the Turkish Government answered expressing the hope that the Government of Greece would "agree, with priority, to enter into negotiations... on the question of the Aegean Sea continental shelf", adding that in principle it considered favourably the proposal to refer the dispute jointly to the Court. To this effect it proposed talks between the two Governments at ministerial level. On 10 February 1975 the Greek Government agreed that talks should be held in order to draft the terms of a special agreement.
    19.
    On 17-19 May 1975 the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Greece and Turkey met in Rome and gave initial consideration to the text of a special agreement concerning the submission of the matter to the International Court of Justice. On 31 May 1975 the Prime Ministers of the two countries met in Brussels and issued the joint communiqué relied on as conferring jurisdiction in this case, the terms of which will be examined in detail later in the present Judgment. They also defined the general lines on the basis of which the subsequent meetings of the representatives of the two Governments would take place and decided to bring forward the date of a meeting of experts concerning the question of the continental shelf of the Aegean Sea.
    20.
    In a Note of 30 September 1975 the Turkish Government reiterated the view it had advanced at the meeting in Rome, that it would not be in the interest of the two countries to submit the dispute to the Court without first attempting meaningful negotiations. It recalled that in Rome it had also expressed the view that delimitation negotiations should take place parallel with the preparation of a special agreement, and that it had been agreed that those issues which could not be resolved by negotiations would be jointly submitted to the Court. In a Note of 2 October 1975 the Greek Government contended that it had been agreed in Brussels on 31 May 1975 that the issue would first be formally submitted to the Court and that talks with a view to an eventual agreed solution were not excluded to follow.
    21.
    In a Note of 18 November 1975 the Turkish Government disputed this interpretation and invited the Greek Government to conduct meaningful negotiations for an agreed equitable settlement, as well as for considering joint submission of unresolved but well-defined legal issues, if necessary, to the Court. In a Note of 19 December 1975 the Greek Government expressed the view that since negotiation was in any case necessary in order to proceed with the drafting of the special agreement, it was understood that if in the course of that negotiation proposals were made for the elimination of points of disagreement concerning delimitation, those proposals would be given appropriate consideration. In accordance with the views expressed in the above communications, meetings of experts took place in Berne from 31 January to 2 February and on 19 and 20 June 1976, but no agreement was reached.
    22.
    On 13 July 1976 a Turkish Government press release was issued concerning researches that would be undertaken by the Turkish seismic research vessel Mta-Sismik I in the Turkish territorial sea and the high seas, and in a statement on Turkish radio on 24 July 1976 the Turkish Foreign Minister indicated that these researches would be carried out in the areas of the Aegean claimed by Turkey, and could extend to all areas of the Aegean outside the territorial waters of Greece. When the vessel pursued its researches into areas where, in the view of the Greek Government, the continental shelf appertains to Greece, that Government made a diplomatic protest to the Turkish Government in a Note Verbale dated 7 August 1976, and on 10 August 1976 referred the matter simultaneously to the International Court of Justice and to the Security Council.
    23.
    On 25 August 1976 the Security Council adopted resolution 395 (1976) to which the Court has referred in its Order of 11 September 1976. The operative part of the Security Council resolution called on the two Governments "to resume direct negotiations over their differences" and appealed to them "to do everything within their power to ensure that this results in mutually acceptable solutions" (para. 3). Paragraph 4 of this resolution invited:

    "... the Governments of Greece and Turkey in this respect to continue to take into account the contribution that appropriate judicial means, in particular the International Court of Justice, are qualified to make to the settlement of any remaining legal differences that they may identify in connection with their present dispute".

    24.
    While the present case was pending before the Court, Greece and Turkey resumed their negotiations, in accordance with the Security Council resolution. Their Ministers for Foreign Affairs met in New York on 1 October 1976 and agreed that the question of the delimitation of the Aegean continental shelf should be the subject of negotiations between the two Governments with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. There followed a meeting in Berne between representatives of the two Governments from 2 to 11 November 1976, which outlined the procedure for future negotiations. It was also agreed that the negotiations would be confidential.
    25.
    The subsequent meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the two States in Brussels ended in a Joint Communiqué published on 11 December 1976 which expressed satisfaction with the previous meeting in Berne. At their next meeting on 29 January 1977 at Strasbourg, the two Ministers for Foreign Affairs exchanged views on the subject of the negotiations relating to the question of the continental shelf which were to begin in London on 31 January 1977. The Ministers met again at Strasbourg on 28 April 1977 and decided to continue negotiations on the subject of the delimitation of the continental shelf, fixing a meeting of their experts, which took place in Paris at the beginning of June 1977. Again on 9 December 1977 the Ministers agreed in Brussels that there should shortly be a meeting of the experts on the question of the continental shelf. This meeting took place in Paris in mid-February 1978.
    26.
    The Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey met at Montreux on 10-11 March 1978 and at Washington on 29 May 1978; they decided that a meeting between the Secretaries-General of the Foreign Ministries of Greece and Turkey should take place in Ankara on 4-5 July 1978. These officials, after their meeting in July, decided to meet again in Athens in September 1978. In Athens they agreed that "the bilateral talks related to the continental shelf question should be resumed at the appropriate level on or about the 1 of December 1978".
    27.
    In his letter of 24 April 1978 to the Registrar, the Ambassador of Turkey to the Netherlands stated inter alia:

    "It should, in the view of the Government of Turkey, be recalled that that Application was filed although the two Governments had not yet begun negotiations on the substantive issue, as is clearly apparent from the contents of the Notes exchanged by the two Governments. It was however always contemplated between them that they would seek, through meaningful negotiations, to arrive at an agreement which would be acceptable to both parties."

    The letter recalled that the Security Council, by its resolution 395 (1976), called upon both Governments "to settle their problems primarily by means of direct negotiations in order that these might result in mutually acceptable solutions". It argued that it was in pursuance of that resolution that the Berne Agreement of 11 November 1976 provided in Article 1 that:

    "The two Parties agree that the negotiations shall be frank, thoroughgoing and pursued in good faith with a view to reaching an agreement based on their mutual consent with regard to the delimitation of the continental shelf as between themselves."

    28.
    After recalling the 10-11 March 1978 meeting at Montreux between the Prime Ministers, the letter claimed that:

    "The necessary conditions for the conduct of frank and serious negotiations, and the spirit which should motivate the parties concerned, with a view to the settlement of their problems by such negotiations, are not reconcilable with the continuation of international judicial proceedings."

    Furthermore, in a Note Verbale to the Greek Government of 29 September 1978 concerning the Greek request for a postponement of the beginning of the oral proceedings in the case, the Turkish Government objected to the postponement, and expressed the opinion that:

    "... the discontinuance of the proceedings and the removal of the case from the list of the International Court of Justice would be more conducive to the creation of a favourable political climate for an agreed settlement".

    30.
    The above-mentioned observations of the Turkish Government might also be interpreted as making the point that there is no dispute between the parties while negotiations continue, so that the Court could not for that reason be seised of jurisdiction in this case. As the Court recognized in its Order of 11 September 1976, the existence of a dispute can hardly be open to doubt in the present case. Counsel for Greece correctly stated that there is in fact a double dispute between the parties:

    "There is a dispute about what the continental shelf boundaries in the Aegean Sea should be, and there is a dispute as to the method whereby this first dispute should be settled—whether by negotiation alone or by submission to a tribunal competent to exercise jurisdiction in the matter, either following upon negotiations or even in the absence of them."

    31.
    Again, in the Turkish Ambassador’s letter of 24 April 1978, the further argument is advanced that the dispute between Greece and Turkey is "of a highly political nature". But a dispute involving two States in respect of the delimitation of their continental shelf can hardly fail to have some political element and the present dispute is clearly one in which "the parties are in conflict as to their respective rights". Greece has asked the Court to pronounce on its submissions "in accordance with the... principles and rules of international law". Turkey, for its part, has invoked legal grounds in reply to the Greek claim, such as the existence of "special circumstances". It is clear from the submissions in the Greek Application and Memorial, as well as in the observations in the various Turkish diplomatic communications to Greece, that Greece and Turkey are in conflict as to the delimitation of the spatial extent of their sovereign rights over the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea. Thus there are certain sovereign rights being claimed by both Greece and Turkey, one against the other and it is manifest that legal rights lie at the root of the dispute that divides the two States. The Court therefore finds that a legal dispute exists between Greece and Turkey in respect of the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea.
    32.
    The Court will now proceed to the consideration of its jurisdiction with respect to this dispute. In paragraph 32 of the Application the Greek Government has specified two bases on which it claims to found the jurisdiction of the Court in the present dispute. Although it is said in paragraph 3 of the Greek Memorial on the question of jurisdiction that these two bases "mutually strengthen each other", they are quite distinct and will therefore be examined separately.
    33.
    The first basis of jurisdiction is formulated in paragraph 32 (1) of the Application as follows :

    "Article 17 of the General Act for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, 1928, read together with Articles 36 (1) and 37 of the Statute of the Court. Respectively on 14 September 1931 and 26 June 1934, Greece and Turkey acceded to this instrument, which is still in force for both of them. The texts of these accessions were accompanied by declarations which are irrelevant to the present case."

    34.
    Article 17 of the General Act of 1928 forms part of Chapter II of the Act, entitled "Judicial Settlement", and reads as follows:

    "All disputes with regard to which the parties are in conflict as to their respective rights shall, subject to any reservations which may be made under Article 39, be submitted for decision to the Permanent Court of International Justice, unless the parties agree, in the manner hereinafter provided, to have resort to an arbitral tribunal. It is understood that the disputes referred to above include in particular those mentioned in Article 36 of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice."

    The Article thus provides, under certain conditions, for the reference to the former Permanent Court of International Justice of disputes with regard to which the parties are in conflict as to their respective rights. Article 37 of the Statute of this Court, however, states that:

    "Whenever a treaty or convention in force provides for reference of a matter to... the Permanent Court of International Justice, the matter shall, as between the parties to the present Statute, be referred to the International Court of Justice."

    The effect of that Article, as this Court emphasized in the Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited, Preliminary Objections, case (I.C.J. Reports 1964, at pp. 31 -39) is that, as between parties to the Statute, this Court is substituted for the Permanent Court in any treaty or convention in force, the terms of which provide for reference of a matter to the Permanent Court. Accordingly any treaty or convention providing for reference of any matter to the Permanent Court is capable as between the parties to the present Statute of furnishing a basis for establishing the Court’s jurisdiction in regard to a dispute, on condition that the treaty or convention applies to the particular matter in question and is in force as between the parties to that dispute. Clearly, Article 17 of the General Act of 1928, here invoked by Greece, contains a jurisdictional clause which does provide for reference to the Permanent Court of certain specified matters, namely, "all disputes with regard to which the parties are in conflict as to their respective rights". It follows that, if the 1928 Act is considered to be a convention in force between Greece and Turkey and applicable to the "matter" which is the subject of the present dispute, the Act, read in combination with Article 37, and Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Statute, may suffice to establish the Court’s jurisdiction in the present case.

    35.
    The General Act came into force in accordance with its terms on 16 August 1929, and Greece became a party to the Act by depositing an instrument of accession on 14 September 1931, subject to certain reservations. Turkey likewise became a party to the Act by depositing an instrument of accession on 26 June 1934 which, also, was subject to certain reservations. In consequence, the General Act undoubtedly became a convention in force as between Greece and Turkey on the ninetieth day following the deposit of Turkey’s instrument of accession, in accordance with Article 44, paragraph 2, of the Act; nor is there any record of either Greece or Turkey having notified the Secretary-General, in conformity with Article 45, paragraph 3, of its denunciation of the Act. The Greek Government maintains that, in these circumstances, the General Act must be presumed to be still in force as between Greece and Turkey, in virtue of paragraph 2 of Article 45, under which the Act is expressed to remain in force for "successive periods of five years in the case of Contracting Parties which do not denounce it at least six months before the expiration of the current period". It further maintains that neither the reservations in Greece’s own instrument of accession nor those in the Turkish instrument have any relevance to the present dispute, and that Article 17 of the General Act accordingly constitutes a valid basis for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction in the present case under Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Statute.
    36.
    The Turkish Government, on the other hand, in the observations which it transmitted to the Court with its letter to the Registrar of 25 August 1976, contested the Greek Government’s right to invoke Article 17 of the General Act in the present case on both counts. It there took the position that the General Act is no longer in force and that, whether or not the General Act is in force, it is inapplicable as between Greece and Turkey. In this connection, the Turkish Government has emphasized "that at no time during the exchanges of documents and discussions concerning the continental shelf areas of the Aegean Sea has any Greek representative made any mention of the General Act of 1928".
    37.
    In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations undertook a study of the text of the General Act of 1928 with a view to restoring its full efficacy, since this had been impaired in some respects as a result of the dissolution of the League of Nations and the disappearance of its organs. On 29 April 1949, the General Assembly adopted resolution 268A-III, by which it instructed the Secretary-General to prepare the text of a "Revised General Act for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes" incorporating the amendments which it had adopted, and to hold it open to accession by States. Explaining the reasons for this instruction, the Preamble to the resolution, inter alia, stated:

    "Whereas the amendments hereafter mentioned are of a nature to restore to the General Act its original efficacy;

    Whereas these amendments will only apply as between States having acceded to the General Act as thus amended and, as a consequence, will not affect the rights of such States, parties to the Act as established on 26 September 1928, as should claim to invoke it in so far as it might still be operative."

    The Secretariat, in a memorandum of 4 May 1948, had provided a list of the States which up to 31 July 1946 had acceded to the 1928 Act and that list included both Greece and Turkey. The publication Multilateral treaties in respect of which the Secretary-General performs depositary functions—List of signatures, notifications, accessions, etc., as at 31 December 1977 lists Greece and Turkey.

    38.
    The question of the status of the General Act of 1928 as a convention in force for the purpose of Article 37 of the Statute of the Court has already been raised, though not decided, in previous cases before the Court. In the Nuclear Tests cases Australia and New Zealand each took the position that the 1928 Act continues in force for States which have not denounced it in conformity with Article 45 of the Act, whereas France informed the Court that, as a result of the dissolution of the League of Nations, it considered the Act to be no longer in force (I.C.J. Pleadings, Nuclear Tests, Vol. II, p. 348). Similarly, in the Trial of Pakistani Prisoners of War case, Pakistan invoked the 1928 Act as a basis for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction in that case, whereas in a letter to the Court, the respondent State, India, stated that the 1928 Act "is either not in force or, in any case, its efficacy is impaired by the fact that the organs of the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice to which it refers have now disappeared" (I.C.J. Pleadings, Trial of Pakistani Prisoners of War, p. 143). The Court also has cognizance of the fact that on 10 January 1974 the Secretary-General of the United Nations received a communication from the Government of the French Republic reaffirming its view as stated above, and notifying him that, with respect to any State or any institution that might contend that the General Act is still in force, the letter was to be taken as constituting a denunciation of the Act in conformity with Article 45 thereof. The Court is further aware that in a letter to the Secretary-General, received on 8 February 1974, the United Kingdom, after referring to the fact that doubts had been raised as to the continued legal force of the General Act, gave notice of its denunciation of the Act in accordance with Article 45, paragraph 2, in so far as it might be considered as still in force, and that by a notification of 15 September 1974 India informed the Secretary-General that it had never regarded itself as bound by the Act since its independence, whether by succession or otherwise. At the same time, the Court observes that a considerable number of other States, listed by the Secretary-General as at 31 December 1977 as having acceded to the Act, have not up to the present date taken steps to denounce it nor voiced any doubts regarding the status of the Act today.
    40.
    The Court is thus confronted with a situation in which, even if the General Act is to be considered a convention in force, its whole relevance as a potential source of the Court’s jurisdiction in a matter concerning a coastal State’s sovereign rights over the continental shelf is contested by the Turkish Government. Clearly, if the Turkish Government’s view of the effect of reservation (b) on the applicability of the Act as between Greece and Turkey with respect to the subject-matter of the present dispute is found by the Court to be justified, a finding on the question whether the Act is or is not a convention in force today ceases to be essential for the Court’s decision regarding its jurisdiction to entertain the present Application. As was pointed out by the Court in the Certain Norwegian Loans case, when its competence is challenged on two separate grounds, "the Court is free to base its decision on the ground which in its judgment is more direct and conclusive" (I.C.J. Reports 1957, p. 25). Accordingly, taking account of the nature of the issue raised in the present proceedings concerning the General Act, the Court will at once address itself to the effect of reservation (b) on the applicability of the Act with respect to the subject-matter of the present dispute.
    41.
    The Greek Government has advanced the contention at the public hearings that reservation (b) should, in any event, be left out of consideration altogether by the Court because the question of its effect on the application of the General Act with respect to the present dispute was not raised by Turkey as a preliminary objection in conformity with Article 67 of the Rules of Court. Consequently, in its view, since Turkey has not filed a preliminary objection in accordance with the conditions laid down in Article 67 of the Rules, it cannot be regarded as having "enforced" the reservation in conformity with Article 39, paragraph 3, of the General Act.
    42.
    The Greek Government recognizes that "the Court, whose jurisdiction is international, is not bound to attach to matters of form the same degree of importance which they might possess in municipal law" (Mavrommatis Palestine Concessions, P.C.I.J., Series A, No. 2, at p. 34); and also that in previous cases where the respondent has not appeared, the Court has takeninto account all the elements before it, including those supplied by extra-procedural communications from the respondent, for the purpose of satisfying itself as to whether its jurisdiction was established. It further recognizes that, even when the respondent has not informed the Court of its attitude, the Court has proprio motu enquired into the possible objections to its jurisdiction in the case. It maintains, however, that in previous cases the Court has never gone further than to take account of "objections", "legal arguments" or "contentions" advanced by the respondent or conceived of by the Court (cf. Fisheries Jurisdiction, I.C.J. Reports 1973, at pp. 7-8; Nuclear Tests, I.C.J. Reports 1974, at pp. 257 and 461). It then asks whether, in a case like the present, the Court can go so far as to substitute itself for the absent government by enforcing proprio motu in place of that government the reservation of the Applicant, thus assimilating the extraprocedural expression of a desire to take advantage of the reservation to the procedural expression of a decision to enforce it. To do so, the Greek Government suggests, would be to take liberties with the provisions both of Article 39, paragraph 3, of the General Act and of Article 67 of the Rules.
    43.
    The procedural objection advanced by Greece to reservation (b)’s being taken into consideration does not appear to the Court to be convincing. According to the information before the Court, no mention was made of the General Act during the negotiations, so that the first mention of the Act by Greece in the present dispute was in its Application filed on 10 August 1976, with which it also filed a request for interim measures of protection. It was only then that the Turkish Government had occasion to consider its position regarding the application of the General Act to the present dispute. On 18 August 1976, the Greek and Turkish Governments were informed, in conformity with Article 66, paragraph 8, of the Rules of Court, that public hearings would open on 25 August 1976 to afford the parties the opportunity of presenting their observations on the Greek request for the indication of provisional measures. On 23 August the Registrar, at the direction of the Court, informed the Turkish Ambassador to the Netherlands that his Government had the right to address to the Court in writing any observations that it might have on the Greek request. It was in these circumstances that, by its letter of 25 August 1976, the Turkish Government transmitted to the Court the document entitled "Observations of the Government of Turkey on the request by the Government of Greece for provisional measures of protection dated The Hague, 10 August 1976". In those observations the Turkish Government specifically referred to the right conferred upon it by Article 39, paragraph 3, of the General Act to invoke Greece’s reservation (b) on the basis of reciprocity, and then stated: "In conformity with this provision, Turkey opposes reservation (b). " In the view of the Court, that formal statement, made in response to a communication from the Court, must be considered as constituting an "enforcement" of the reservation within the meaning of, and in conformity with, Article 39, paragraph 3, of the Act.
    44.
    The Turkish Government, it is true, was not represented at the public hearings on Greece’s request for the indication of provisional measures, and did not afterwards file a preliminary objection or take any steps in the proceedings. But there is no provision in the Rules of Court which excludes the submission of written observations on a request for provisional measures; nor is there any provision which excludes the raising of questions of jurisdiction in written observations submitted in proceedings on the indication of provisional measures. On the contrary, in view of the urgency of a request for provisional measures, written communications not submitted through an agent but either directly or through the Ambassador in The Hague have invariably been admitted by the Court; while one of the very purposes of such communications has commonly been to raise questions as to the competence of the Court with respect to the particular case (Anglo-lranian Oil Co., I.C.J. Reports 1951, p. 91; Fisheries Jurisdiction, I.C.J. Reports 1972, pp. 14 and 32; Nuclear Tests, I.C.J. Reports 1973, pp. 100 and 136-137; Trial of Pakistani Prisoners of War, I.C.J. Reports 1973, p. 329).
    45.
    In the present case, the Turkish Government’s observations were immediately communicated to the Greek Agent, and they were referred to by counsel for Greece during the hearings concerning the request for interim measures. Indeed, counsel for Greece then expressly recognized that by reason of the title given to the document the Turkish Government had placed itself "within the context of Article 66, paragraph 8, of the Rules of Court", adding:

    "Thus, not only has an opportunity of presenting observations been given to Turkey, but Turkey has in fact, in the letter which it has sent to the Court and in the document, availed itself of that opportunity of presenting observations."

    46.
    The Court itself, in its Order of 11 September 1976 took due notice of the Turkish Government’s observations (I.C.J. Reports 1976, p. 5, paras. 7 and 8). It also called attention to the invocation by Turkey of reservation (b) in Greece’s instrument of accession, and set out the text of the reservation (ibid., p. 8, para. 19). In that Order, moreover, the Court expressly stated that, "having regard to the position taken by the Turkish Government in its observations communicated to the Court on 26 August 1976, that the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the Greek Application", it was "necessary to resolve first of all the question of the Court’s jurisdiction with respect to the case" (ibid., p. 13, para. 45). Accordingly, after giving its finding on the request for interim measures, the Court went on to decide that the present proceedings should be addressed to "the question of the Court’s jurisdiction to entertain the dispute".
    47.
    In the procedural circumstances of the case it cannot be said that the Court does not now have before it an invocation by Turkey of reservation (b) which conforms to the provisions of the General Act and of the Rules of Court. Nor can it be said that the Court substitutes itself for the Turkish Government if it now takes cognizance of a reservation duly invoked in limine litis in the proceedings on the request for interim measures. It would not discharge its duty under Article 53 of the Statute if it were to leave out of its consideration a reservation, the invocation of which by the Respondent was properly brought to its notice earlier in the proceedings. It follows that the Court has now to examine the scope of reservation (b) and its application to the present dispute.
    48.
    The text of the reservations in Greece’s instrument of accession reads as follows :

    "Sont exclus des procédures décrites par l’Acte général, sans en excepter celle de conciliation visée à son chapitre I:

    a) les différends nés de faits antérieurs, soit à l’adhésion de la Grèce, soit à l’adhésion d’une autre Partie avec laquelle la Grèce viendrait à avoir un différend;

    b) les différends portant sur des questions que le droit international laisse à la compétence exclusive des Etats et, notamment, les différends ayant trait au statut territorial de la Grèce, y compris ceux relatifs à ses droits de souveraineté sur ses ports et ses voies de communication."
    [Translation]
    "The following disputes are excluded from the procedures described in the General Act, including the procedure of conciliation referred to in Chapter I:
    (a) disputes resulting from facts prior either to the accession of Greece or to the accession of another Party with whom Greece might have a dispute;
    (b) disputes concerning questions which by international law are solely within the domestic jurisdiction of States, and in particular disputes relating to the territorial status of Greece, including disputes relating to its rights of sovereignty over its ports and lines of communication."

    49.
    The Greek Government maintains on various grounds that reservation (b) cannot be considered as covering the present dispute regarding the continental shelf of the Aegean Sea. One of those grounds consists of a contention that, when read correctly according to its terms, reservation (b) does not cover all disputes relating to the territorial status of Greece but only such as both relate to its territorial status and at the same time concern "questions which by international law are solely within the domestic jurisdiction of States". On this basis, it argues that, as the delimitation of the continental shelf cannot be considered a question "solely within the domestic jurisdiction of States", the subject-matter of the present dispute is not covered by reservation (b). Since this ground is based on an essentially grammatical interpretation of the reservation, the Court will examine it first.
    50.
    The grammatical argument hinges upon the interpretation of the words "et, notamment," ("and in particular") which precede the reference to "les différends ayant trait au statut territorial de la Grèce (disputes relating to the territorial status of Greece)". Those words are said by the Greek Government to make it plain that the reference to "disputes relating to the territorial status of Greece" was not intended to designate an autonomous category of disputes additional to the category of disputes concerning matters solely within domestic jurisdiction. The effect of those words, according to the Greek Government, is to show that in reservation (b) "disputes relating to the territorial status of Greece" are included within the description of disputes concerning matters solely within domestic jurisdiction, and are there mentioned merely as a particular example of such disputes which it was desired to emphasize.
    51.
    In support of this interpretation of the words "et, notamment," the Greek Government invokes the authority of Robert’s Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue française (Vol. IV) which explains "notamment" as meaning "d’une manière qui mérite d’être notée" (in a way which deserves to be noted), and adds in brackets: "sert le plus souvent à attirer l’attention sur un ou plusieurs objets particuliers faisant partie d’un ensemble précédemment désigné ou sous-entendu" (most often used to draw attention to one or more particular objects forming part of a previously designated or understood whole). Particular stress is then laid by the Greek Government on the phrases given by Robert to illustrate the use of the word notamment, in the majority of which the word is preceded by the word et, but still denotes merely a particular instance of a wider genus or category. The Greek Government also cites similar examples of this use of "et notamment" given in the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française and in Littré, Dictionnaire de la langue française. On the basis of this linguistic evidence, it maintains that the natural, ordinary and current meaning of this expression absolutely precludes the Greek reservation from being read as covering disputes regarding territorial status in addition to, and quite separately from, disputes regarding matters of domestic jurisdiction.
    53.
    In the first place, the grammatical argument overlooks the commas placed both before and after "notamment". To put the matter at its lowest, one possible purpose of these commas might have been to make it clear that in the phrase "et, notamment, les différends" etc., the word "et" is intended to be a true conjunctive introducing a category of "différends" additional to those already specified.
    54.
    Another point overlooked by the argument is that the meaning attributed to "et, notamment, " by Greece is grammatically not the only, although it may be the most frequent, use of that expression. Robert’s Dictionnaire itself goes no further than to say of the word notamment that it is "most often" used to draw attention to one of several particular objects forming part of a collectivity previously indicated or implied. The question whether in the present instance the expression "et, notamment, " has the meaning attributed to it by Greece thus depends on the context in which those words were used in Greece’s instrument of accession and is not a matter simply of their preponderant linguistic usage. Even a purely grammatical interpretation of reservation (b), therefore, leaves open the possibility that the words "et, notamment, les différends ayant trait au statut territorial de la Grèce" were intended to specify an autonomous category of disputes additional to those concerning matters of domestic jurisdiction, which were also specifically excluded from the procedures described in the General Act".
    55.
    In any event, "the Court cannot base itself on a purely grammatical interpretation of the text" (Anglo-lranian Oil Co., I.C.J. Reports 1952, p. 104). A number of considerations of a substantive character point decisively to the conclusion that reservation (b) in fact contained two separate and autonomous reservations. One is that the making of reservations to the General Act was expressly authorized and regulated by Article 39, which allowed only the reservations "exhaustively enumerated" in paragraph 2 of the Article, namely:

    "(a) Disputes arising out of facts prior to the accession either of the Party making the reservation or of any other Party with whom the said Party may have a dispute;

    (b) Disputes concerning questions which by international law are solely within the domestic jurisdiction of States;

    (c) Disputes concerning particular cases or clearly specified subject-matters, such as territorial status, or disputes falling within clearly defined categories."

    When a multilateral treaty thus provides in advance for the making only of particular, designated categories of reservations, there is clearly a high probability, if not an actual presumption, that reservations made in terms used in the treaty are intended to relate to the corresponding categories in the treaty. Nor does the fact that the instrument of accession includes in a single paragraph two categories of disputes which are listed in the treaty as separate categories, by itself, in any way diminish that probability. When making reservations under the General Act, States have not, as a rule, meticulously followed the pattern of reservations set out in Article 39, paragraph 2; and they have not infrequently grouped together in one paragraph two or more reservations listed separately in the Act.

    56.
    In the present instance, the very structure of reservation (b) hardly seems consistent with an intention to make "disputes relating to the territorial status of Greece", which are placed by the General Act in one category, merely an example of disputes concerning questions of domestic jurisdiction, which are placed by the Act in a quite different category. If that had been the intention at the time, it would have been natural for those who drafted Greece’s instrument of accession to put the words y compris (including) where the words et, notamment, (and in particular) in fact appear in reservation (b) and the words et, notamment, where the words y compris are now found. But that is not how reservation (b) was drafted.
    58.
    The Greek Government has suggested that an improvement in the political climate of the time enabled Greece to dispense with an autonomous reservation of disputes relating to its territorial status, and to content itself with the integration of those disputes into its domestic jurisdiction reservation. But this would not explain why Greece should then have maintained an autonomous reservation of disputes relating to territorial status in its acceptance of the optional clause. Another difficulty is that accession to the General Act involved an even wider risk of claims than acceptance of the optional clause; for the pacific settlement procedures of the General Act are not limited to the judicial settlement of legal disputes. They also provide for conciliation with respect to disputes "of every kind", and even for the possibility, under certain conditions, of arbitration of political disputes on the basis that the arbitrators may decide ex aequo et bono. It hardly seems likely, therefore, that Greece should have intended to have curtailed the protection given by its reservation of disputes relating to territorial status, when subjecting itself to the wider range of procedures contained in the Act.
    59.
    Equally unconvincing is a suggestion that, although the scope of the "territorial status" reservation was reduced by its incorporation in the reservation of questions of domestic jurisdiction, Greece thereby obtained a "reinforced barrage", a "qualitatively enhanced protection" and a "doubly-bolted" door against the claims which it was particularly concerned to guard against. This suggestion takes no account of the legal implications of incorporating "disputes relating to territorial status" into a reservation of questions of "domestic jurisdiction", as these had been explained by the Permanent Court in 1923 in its Advisory Opinion, on the Nationality Decrees Issued in Tunis and Morocco (P.C.I.J., Series B, No. 4). The Permanent Court there observed that the question whether a certain matter is or is not solely within the jurisdiction of a State is an essentially relative question and depends upon "the development of international relations". It pointed out that a matter which is not, in principle, regulated by international law and is thus a matter within the State’s domestic jurisdiction, will cease to be such if the State has undertaken obligations towards other States with respect to that matter. Consequently, and in the light of historical circumstances now to be described, it is hardly conceivable that Greece intended to reduce the scope of its "territorial status" reservation by integrating it into its "domestic jurisdiction" reservation.
    60.
    Greece’s main preoccupation in the years following the First World War, so the Court was informed, was to guard against the revival of Bulgarian aspirations to recover direct access to the Aegean Sea which it had lost as a result of the territorial changes effected by the peace treaties. By the Treaty of Neuilly of 27 November 1919, Bulgaria had renounced all its rights and titles over areas of Thrace, but the Principal Allied and Associated Powers at the same time "undertook to ensure the economic outlets of Bulgaria to the Aegean Sea" (Art. 48). Article 4 of the Treaty of Sèvres of 10 August 1920 relating to Thrace, put into force by Protocol XVI of the Lausanne Conference, provided that Greece "in order to ensure to Bulgaria free access to the Aegean Sea" recognized her freedom of transit "over the territories and in the ports assigned to Greece under the present Treaty". The expectation that Bulgaria might seek to secure a revision of this territorial settlement was the source of Greece’s preoccupation and, also, as will be shown shortly, its motive for inserting in its declaration under the optional clause a reservation of disputes relating to its territorial status. In the present connection, however, what needs to be emphasized is that the territorial settlement, against the revision of which Greece’s "territorial status" reservation was designed to provide a safeguard, consisted essentially of a complex of rights and obligations established by treaties. Consequently, having regard to the implications of the Nationality Decrees Opinion, that territorial settlement was by its very nature one which could not legally be considered as capable of falling within the concept of questions of domestic jurisdiction. It follows that, by integrating its territorial status reservation into its reservation of questions of domestic jurisdiction, Greece would automatically have deprived itself of the protection which the former reservation would otherwise have given it against attempts to use the General Act as a means of effecting a revision of the territorial settlement established by the peace treaties.
    61.
    This basic objection to the Greek Government’s way of interpreting reservation (b) is not removed by another suggestion made in the public hearings. This was that the series of treaties connected with the territorial arrangements and the treatment of minorities provided their own special procedures for the settlement of disputes, which had priority over those of the General Act under Article 29, so that an autonomous reservation of disputes relating to territorial status was not really indispensable to Greece. The difficulty with this suggestion, however, is that these procedures by no means covered all possible claims relating to territorial status and to rights of sovereignty over ports and lines of communication. It is true that the Treaty of Neuilly provided for recourse to the Permanent Court or to other methods of pacific settlement on questions relating to minorities and certain other matters, but special procedures were never established for the settlement of disputes concerning the parts of the Treaty dealing with Bulgaria’s economic outlet to the Aegean Sea.
    62.
    The Court is not, therefore, convinced by the several explanations which have been put forward to account for the difference between Greece’s territorial status reservation in its declaration under the optional clause and that in its instrument of accession to the General Act, if the latter instrument is given the meaning contended for by Greece. It also appears significant that no support for any of these explanations can be found in the contemporary evidence placed before the Court relating to the making of Greece’s declaration under the optional clause in 1929 and to the deposit of its instrument of accession in 1931. This evidence will now be examined.
    106.
    The information before the Court concerning the negotiations between the experts and the diplomatic exchanges subsequent to the Brussels Communiqué appears to confirm that the two Prime Ministers did not by their "decision" undertake an unconditional commitment to submit the continental shelf dispute to the Court. The two sides, it is true, put somewhat different interpretations upon the meaning of the Communiqué, the Turkish side insisting upon the need for meaningful negotiations on the substance of the dispute before any submission to the Court, the Greek side pressing for the case to be taken directly to the Court. From the

    first, however, the Turkish side consistently maintained the position that reference of the dispute to the Court was to be contemplated only on the basis of a joint submission after the conclusion of a special agreement defining the issues to be resolved by the Court. Even the Greek Government, while arguing in favour of immediate submission of the dispute to the Court, referred to the drafting of a special agreement as "necessary" for submitting the issue to the Court (Notes Verbales of 2 October and 19 December 1975, Application, Ann. IV, Nos. 2 and 4). It is also significant that nowhere in the diplomatic exchanges or in the negotiations between the experts does the Greek Government appear to have invoked the Joint Communiqué as an already existing and complete, direct title of jurisdiction. Furthermore, although in a Note Verbale of 27 January 1975, before any Joint Communiqué existed, the Greek Government expressly reserved its "right to initiate Court proceedings unilaterally" (presumably having in mind the General Act), the Court has not found any mention by Greece, prior to the filing of the Application, of the possibility that the dispute might be submitted to the Court unilaterally on the basis of the Joint Communiqué.

    109.
    For these reasons,

    The Court,

    by 12 votes to 2,

    finds that it is without jurisdiction to entertain the Application filed by the Government of the Hellenic Republic on 10 August 1976.

    Done in English and in French, the English text being authoritative, at the Peace Palace, The Hague, this nineteenth day of December, one thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight, in three copies, of which one will be placed in the archives of the Court and the others transmitted to the Government of the Hellenic Republic and to the Government of the Republic of Turkey respectively.

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