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Argentina v. Uruguay (Case Concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay)

International Court of Justice
2010 I.C.J. 135 (Apr. 20)


Facts

The Statute of the River Uruguay (Statute), a 1975 treaty between Uruguay (defendant) and Argentina (plaintiff), established the Administrative Commission of the River Uruguay (CARU), a bilateral commission intended to facilitate the nations’ joint management of the Uruguay River (River), which formed the international boundary between the two nations. Article 7 of the Statute required a party planning any projects that might affect the River to notify CARU, which would in turn decide if the plan had the potential to injure the other party. If so, the acting party would be required to inform the other party of the project. Argentina and Uruguay also agreed that the acting party was required to undertake an environmental-impact assessment to determine the extent of any damage that the plan might cause. Article 41 of the Statute imposed a substantive obligation upon the nations to protect the marine life of the River and to prevent pollution through the implementation of appropriate regulations. Uruguay authorized two companies, Botnia and ENCE, to build two pulp mills next to the River. Argentina argued that the authorizations violated procedural as well as substantive obligations under the Statute because Uruguay (1) did not refer its plans to CARU, (2) did not notify Argentina of the plans, and (3) conducted an insufficient environmental-impact assessment because Uruguay did not consider alternative mill sites as required under international law. Uruguay offered a study establishing that at least four other mill sites had been considered. After CARU was unable to resolve the dispute, Argentina brought the case before the International Court of Justice, requesting that the already constructed Botnia mill be taken down.

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