Eritrea / Yemen

Date of Award: 9 October 1998

The International Maritime Boundary Line between Eritrea (left) and Yemen (right)

Eritrea and Yemen both claimed sovereignty over a group of islands in the Red Sea, but agreed to settle their dispute on questions of territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation before the Arbitral Tribunal. Eritrea was found to be sovereign over the Mohabbakah islands, the Haycock islands and Southwest Rocks owing to their proximity to the Eritrean mainland and presumption of natural unity. The Tribunal found Yemen to be sovereign over the Zubayr group of islands and the Zuqar-Hanish group on the balance of the evidence from the Parties regarding the exercise of the functions of state authority.

The Eritrea-Yemen Arbitration is one of the most significant international arbitrations of the end of the twentieth century. It solved the problem of ownership of the southern islands of the Red Sea, the solution of which had been awaited since the end of World War I. With its recognition of a 'traditional fishing regime' and crystallisation of the criteria for maritime delimitation, it also made a significant contribution to the development of international law.

Eritrea/Yemen Arbitration: Arbitration Agreements, 1-10-1996
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