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Qatari and Bahraini conflicts over Hawar Islands in ICJ (international court of justice) - Term Paper Example

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The Hawar Islands are located 24km southwest of Bahrain. The archipelago has a total land area of 38 sq. km with 16 islets comprising the area. Major centers of pearl diving before the islands are bounded with coral reefs and shallows. The population of the archipelago mostly concentrates into fishers' villages…
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Qatari and Bahraini conflicts over Hawar Islands in ICJ (international court of justice)
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Download file to see previous pages Despite their proximity to Qatar, the islands belong to Bahrain. As a matter of fact, these islands were the subject of a dispute between Bahrain and Qatar. Official claims on Hawar Islands by both countries started in 1935. This occurred after oil had been found in Bahrain ten years earlier. An armed conflict then ensued in August 1937. In year 1939, the British Resident in Manama decreed that the island of Hawar belonged to Bahrain. Qatar, however, continued claims on the islands in the year 1960. The Emir of Qatar criticized the 1939 agreement and tried to purchase the islands. Eventually, the Qatari cost guards prohibited the fishers from Bahrain to enter the waters surrounding Hawar Islands. Bahrain, on its part, answered with naval maneuvers and was accused by Qatar of violating its territorial waters. On twenty sixth day of April 1986, the troops from Qatari captured 29 Bahraini workers, who were nevertheless later released. Due to these incidents, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council attempted to mediate between the two parties. As a result, Bahrain claimed the Zubara area, which had previously belonged to the Khalifa family, ruler of Bahrain, and Qatar claimed the Hawar islands. However, Bahrain took a tighter grip when its oil stocks started to dwindle. On 17 April 1992, Qatar declared new territorial water borders extending over 12 miles, and claimed a 22-mile area in which it could exert sovereignty. Bahrain immediately litigated these borders and applied the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ, The World Court) in The Hague. There were complex legal issues involved in this dispute. It includes the legitimacy of the 1939 colonial-era decision. It also took cognizance of standards regarding territorial integrity vs. real power of territory. In this dispute, Qatar based its claim to the islands on its main concern of title and on the principle of proximity and territorial unity. They claim that the islands all lie within 12 nautical mile of the Qatari coast, and most lie within a three nautical mile limit. Thus, they deduce that islands are an integral part of the coast of Qatar. On the other hand, Bahrain based its claim on a 1939 British decision granting them to Bahrain. It claimed that it had exercised sovereignty over the Hawar islands for over two centuries. They alleged that Qatar never exercised any competing authority. In addition to citing proofs and facts of Bahraini relations with the islands through the years, it more importantly relied on the decision given by the British of 11th of July, 1939 giving the islands to Bahrain. To give light on the said decision, it came about after Qatar charged Bahrain of illegally occupying the islands in 1937. Both the two sides requested to the British to settle the issue and the latter ruled in favor of Bahrain. Bahrain insisted that such amounted to an arbitration award. Thus, Bahrain maintained that since 1939, it had indeed maintained continuous occupation and exercised sovereignty on the islands. On the contrary, Qatar rejected the 1939 decision because it was done by the colonial power without Qatari acquiescence. Qatar has set out in clear and concise terms the basis of its claim of sovereignty over the Hawar islands. Qatar relies upon the fact that the majority of the islands and islets constituting the Hawar islands lie wholly or partially within a three-mile territorial sea limit from Qatar’s mainland, which was a limit recognized by Qatar and Great ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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