World Court awards Malaysia sovereignty over two islands near Borneo

17 December 2002

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) today ruled in favour of Malaysia in its dispute with Indonesia over two islands off the coast of Borneo.

By a vote of 16-1, the ICJ found that Malaysia had demonstrated its effective administration over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan - two very small islands in the Celebes Sea off the northeast coast of Borneo - and ruled that sovereignty belongs to Kuala Lumpur.

The Court, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, rejected Indonesia's arguments that the islands rightly belonged to it because of an 1891 treaty between Great Britain and the Netherlands, as well as its claim of ownership through right of succession. The justices also dismissed Jakarta's reasoning that its naval patrols and the use by Indonesian fisherman of nearby waters entitled it to the islands.


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