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By Rudolf Bernhardt

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Extra resources for Encyclopedia of Public International Law 10 : States. Responsibility of States. International Law and Municipal Law

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The first of these principles is the notion of "natural" boundaries. There is, in fact, no rule of general international law that States are entitled to natural boundaries, whatever that could mean. Natural phenomena may, however, in certain cases determine the possibility of acts of effective domination and thus constitute an element in the determination of a relevant custom. Such phenomena, in particular a watershed, a mountain range, or a watercourse may be referred to in a treaty in order to describe a boundary.

Unless such a boundary is related to a particular waterlevel. g. mean high-water mark (1930 Treaty between Guatemala and Honduras. LNTS. Vol. 137, p. 231). uncertainty will exist over its location if the level fluctuates through natural changes in flow or through the extraction of water. Boundaries delimited in this category tend to be politically unstable where the watercourse becomes economically or strategically important to both riparians. Thus the treaties whereby the whole course of the Shatt-al-Arab was placed under Iraqi sovereignty were altered by the Iraq-Iran Protocol of 1975 (lLM.

Nicaragua); ~ Eastern Greenland Case; ~ Honduras-Nicaragua Boundary Dispute; ~ Minquiers and Ecrehos Case; ~ Monastery of Saint-Naoum (Advisory Opinion); ~ Sovereignty over Certain Frontier Land Case (Belgium/Netherlands); ~ Temple of Preah Vihear Case; ~ Frontier Dispute Case (Burkina Faso/Mali». The tasks of actual delimitation or demarcation are often given to ~ mixed commissions. In procedures for the determination and delimitation of borders, the question of evidence is often crucial. Maps play an important role.

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