MFA Press Statement: International Court of Justice awards sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore, 23 May 2008

23 May 2008

We are pleased with the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which awards Singapore sovereignty over Pedra Branca which is the key feature in dispute. The judgment is not totally in Singapore's favour, as the Court has awarded Middle Rocks to Malaysia. The Court also decided that South Ledge belongs to the country in whose territorial waters it is located. We had argued that these features are part of Pedra Branca but as the Court has found otherwise, Singapore accepts the Court's decision.

This judgment brings to a closure a long-standing territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore. Both countries had undertaken to respect and abide by the findings regardless of which way the ICJ decided. We will now put this issue behind us and move on to strengthen our bilateral and regional cooperation.

By resolving this dispute through third party adjudication, both countries have demonstrated our respect for international law and our commitment to settling disputes in an amicable manner. This case exemplifies the usefulness of a third party dispute settlement mechanism, and can be a model for resolving other bilateral disputes.

Singapore will discuss with Malaysia the steps and procedures to implement the decision of the Court. In this regard, officials from both sides had already been in discussion prior to the judgment of the Court.
The Government wishes to thank the Singapore team and our foreign counsel for their able presentation of our case before the ICJ. The Government also thanks the officials from all the Ministries and agencies who had worked very hard over many years on this case.

In response to media queries on the implications of the judgment on issues regarding Singapore's entitlement to territorial sea or maritime zones around Pedra Branca, the MFA Spokesman said:

"The Court was not asked to determine such questions of maritime space or boundary delimitation. Singapore's rights and interests on these matters will be pursued in accordance with international law.

As indicated in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Statement dated 15 September 1980, Singapore has a territorial sea limit that extends up to a maximum of 12 nautical miles and an Exclusive Economic Zone. This is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, which Singapore is a State Party to.

The precise coordinates of Singapore's territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone will be announced at an appropriate time. Should the limits of its territorial sea or Exclusive Economic Zone overlap with claims of neighbouring countries, Singapore will negotiate with those countries with a view to arriving at agreed delimitations in accordance with international law. Singapore reserves its position on international agreements it is not a party to."

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23 MAY 2008


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