Permanent Court of International Justice - International Water Law Cases

Diversion of Water from the Meuse Case (Netherlands v. Belgium)

[1937], P.C.I.J. (Ser. A/B) No. 70

Summary: In 1863, Belgium and the Netherlands signed a Treaty governing diversions from the Meuse that would supply water for navigation and irrigation canals. As economic conditions evolved, both States enlarged and expanded their respective waterways by constructing new canals, locks, and barrages. In 1937, the Netherlands initiated this injunctive proceeding, alleging that Belgium’s expansion projects were in violation of the treaty. Belgium filed counterclaims declaring that the Netherland's claims were ill-founded and that the expansion projects in the Netherlands violated the treaty. The Court concluded that the Treaty did not prevent either State from taking the actions complained of.

Oscar Chinn Case (Britain v. Belgium)

[1937], P.C.I.J. (Ser. A/B) No. 70

Summary: In 1931 the Belgian Government implemented a program that allowed Unatra, a company with significant ties to the Belgian Government, to offer discounted transportation services on the Belgian Congo. In return, Unatra would receive a reimbursement from the government. Mr. Chinn, a British Subject operating a fluvial transport company on the river, could not compete with Unatra’s nominal prices and was not eligible for government reimbursement. The Court decided, based on the Convention of Saint-Germain of 10 September 1919 and general principles of international law, that the Belgian Government had not violated its duty to Mr. Chinn with regard to fluvial transport on the waterways of the Belgian Congo.

Case Relating to the Territorial Jurisdiction of the International Commission of the Oder River

[1929], P.C.I.J. (Ser.A) No. 23, (Sept. 10)

Summary: The treaty of Versailles established an international commission to rework international regulations pertaining to the Oder river and its tributaries. Poland disagreed with the commission's assertion of jurisdiction over two tributaries within polish territory. because the tributaries were found to be "navigable" and to "naturally provide more than one state with access to the sea," the court held that jurisdiction extended to navigable tributaries within Polish territory.

Case Relating to the Jurisdiction of the European Commission of the Danube Between Galatz and Braila

Advisory Opinion, [1927], P.C.I.J. (Ser. B) No. 14

Summary: Beginning with the Treaty of Paris in 1856, a series of treaties subjected the Danube to an international regime controlled by the European Commission. In 1919 the Treaty of Versailles confirmed the power of the European Commission over those parts of the Danube that the Commission had controlled previous to World War I. But the Treaty only allowed representatives from Great Britain, France, Italy and Romania to serve on the Commission. The Rumanian delegate disagreed with the other states’ delegates that the Commission had jurisdiction over the river between Galatz and Braila. Upon finding that the Commission had historically controlled the disputed portion of the river, the Court rejected Romania's arguments.