ICJ Decides for Uruguay in Pulp Mills Dispute

image As mentioned previously, the ICJ has delivered its decision in the Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay Case (Argentina v Uruguay) resulting in a resounding victory for Argentina.  The court held that there had been a technical breach of the duty to consult Argentina under the Statute of the River Uruguay. 

The substantial breaches pleaded by Argentina of pollution caused by the new mills and to manage the environment of the river optimally were ruled to be outside the courts jurisdiction or had in fact been complied with on the evidence before the court.

Since no substantive breaches were found, the court did not need to consider the question of remedies because shutting down the mill or compensation was inappropriate for purely procedural breaches  Unfortunately remedies was one of the reasons this particular decision was of any interest.

Interestingly the court did rule that there was an obligation under general international law that states are required when planning activities which may cause cross border pollution, to carry out an environmental impact assessment, the content of which must be determined by each State within its domestic legislation. The Court observed that  an environmental impact assessment should include, at a minimum, “[a] description of practical alternatives” to the main proposed plan. 

Press release summarising the case from the ICJ here.  Text of the judgement here. Dissenting opinion of Judges Al-Khasawneh and Simma here. Some reaction to the decision here.  There are also posts on international law blogs Opinio Juris and Intl Law Prof on the decision.

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