Hague Tribunal

Hague Tribunal

Hague Tribunal, popular name for the Permanent Court of Arbitration established in 1899 by a convention of the First Hague Peace Conference to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between states. Its headquarters are at The Hague, the Netherlands. In 2009 there were 109 countries adhering to the tribunal's conventions.

Each member nation may appoint to the court up to four jurists versed in international law. A case is initiated when two or more nations sign a compromise, an agreement to submit a dispute to arbitration. The disputants may either select arbitrators from the panel to hear their case or they may have two arbitrators choose an umpire before whom the hearing will be held. The tribunal also maintains a list of arbitrators who specialize in the environment and natural resources. Tribunals sit at The Hague unless another place is specified in the compromise. The Hague Tribunal is administered by the International Bureau, which provides administrative support and has custody of archives, and by the Administrative Council, which is composed of the diplomatic envoys of member nations accredited to the Netherlands and shapes the policy of the organization.

Important cases include the final settlement (1904) of the Venezuela Claims, the North Atlantic Coast Fisheries Arbitration (1910) between the United States and Great Britain, the territorial dispute (1998) between Yemen and Eritrea over islands in the Red Sea, the Eritean-Ethiopian boundary dispute (2002) and war damages claims (2009), and the determination of the boundaries of the contested Abyei region of Sudan (2009). After World War I the Hague Tribunal lost most of its importance to the World Court, which was in 1945 superseded by the International Court of Justice. Unlike the International Court of Justice, the tribunal also hears cases between a nation and a private party.


Croatian foreign policy has focused on greater Euro-Atlantic integration, mainly entering the European Union and NATO. In order to gain access to European and trans-Atlantic institutions, it has had to undo many negative effects of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the war that ensued, and improve and maintain good relations with its neighbors.

Key issues over the last decade have been the implementation of the Dayton Accords and the Erdut Agreement, nondiscriminatory facilitation of the return of refugees and displaced persons from the 1991-95 war including property restitution for ethnic Serbs, resolution of border disputes with Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and general democratization.

Croatia has had an uneven record in these areas between 1996 and 1999 during the right-wing HDZ government, inhibiting its relations with the European Union and the U.S. Improvement in these areas severely hindered the advance of Croatia's prospects for further Euro-Atlantic integration. Progress in the areas of Dayton, Erdut, and refugee returns were evident in 1998, but progress was slow and required intensive international engagement.

Croatia's unsatisfactory performance implementing broader democratic reforms in 1998 raised questions about the ruling party's commitment to basic democratic principles and norms. Areas of concern included restrictions on freedom of speech, one-party control of public TV and radio, repression of independent media, unfair electoral regulations, a judiciary that is not fully independent, and lack of human and civil rights protection.

A centre-left coalition government was elected in early 2000. The SDP-led government slowly relinquished control over public media companies and did not interfere with freedom of speech and independent media, though it didn't complete the process of making Croatian Radiotelevision independent. Judiciary reforms remained a pending issue as well.

Major Croatian advances in foreign relations during this period have included:

The EU application was the last major international undertaking of the Račan government, which submitted a 7,000-page report in reply to the questionnaire by the European Commission.

Foreign relations were severely affected by the government's hesitance and stalling of the extradition of Croatian general Janko Bobetko to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and inability to take general Ante Gotovina into custody for questioning by the Court.

Refugee returns accelerated since 1999, reached a peak in 2000, but then slightly decreased in 2001 and 2002. The OSCE mission in Croatia has continued to monitor the return of refugees and is still recording civil rights violations. Croatian Serbs continue to have problems with restitution of property and acceptance to the reconstruction assistance programmes. Combined with lacking economic opportunities in the rural areas of former Krajina, the return process is highly troubled.

At the time of Croatia's application to the European Union, three EU countries were yet to ratify the Stabilization and Association Agreement: the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy.

The new Sanader government repeated the assurances that Croatia will fulfill the missing political obligations, and expedited the extradition of several ICTY indictees.

The European Commission replied to the answers of the questionnaire sent to Croatia on April 20 2004 with a positive opinion. The country was finally accepted as EU candidate in July 2004. Italy and Britain ratified the Stabilization and Association Agreement shortly thereafter, while the ten EU countries that were admitted to membership that year ratified it en masse at a European Summit.

In December 2004, the EU leaders announced that accession negotiations with Croatia would start on March 17 2005 provided that Croatian government cooperates fully with the ICTY. The main issue, the flight of general Gotovina, however, remained unsolved and despite the agreement on an accession negotiation framework, the negotiations did not begin in March 2005.

On October 4 2005 Croatia finally received green light for accession negotiations after the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, Carla Del Ponte officially stated that Croatia is fully cooperating with the Tribunal. This has been the main condition demanded by EU foreign ministers for accession negotiations. The ICTY called upon other southern European states to follow Croatia's good example. Thanks to the consistent position of Austria during the meeting of EU foreign ministers, a long period of instability and the questioning of the determination of the Croatian government to surrender war criminals has ended successfully. The Croatian Prime minister declared that full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal will continue.

Current events

The main objective of the Croatian foreign policy is admittance to the European Union. It applied in 2003, and began with accession negotiations in 2005 (see also: Accession of Croatia to the European Union).

Government officials in charge of foreign policy include the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, currently Gordan Jandroković, and the President of the Republic, currently Stjepan Mesić. The chief EU negotiator is Vladimir Drobnjak.

As of 2004, Croatia has diplomatic missions in 124 locations around the world, including two permanent missions to the United Nations. A complete listing of Croatian embassies in foreign countries is available at " Diplomatic Missions and Consular Offices" at the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

International organizations

Republic of Croatia participates in the following international organizations:


Foreign support

Croatia receives support from donor programs of:

Between 1991 and 2003, the EBRD had directly invested a total of 1,212,039,000 EUR into projects in Croatia.

In 1998, U.S. support to Croatia came through the Southeastern European Economic Development Program (SEED), whose funding in Croatia totaled $23.25 million. More than half of that money was used to fund programs encouraging sustainable returns of refugees and displaced persons. About one-third of the assistance was used for democratization efforts, and another 5% funded financial sector restructuring.

In 2003 USAID considered Croatia to be on a "glide path for graduation" along with Bulgaria. Its 2002/2003/2004 funding includes around $10 million for economic development, up to $5 million for the development of democratic institutions, about $5 million for the return of population affected by war and between 2 and 3 million dollars for the "mitigation of adverse social conditions and trends". A rising amount of funding is given to cross-cutting programs in anti-corruption, slightly under one million dollars.

The European Commission has proposed to assist Croatia's efforts to join the European Union with 245 million euros from PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD aid programs over the course of 2005 and 2006.

International disputes

Relations with neighbouring states have normalized somewhat since the breakup of Yugoslavia. Work has begun — bilaterally and within the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe since 1999 — on political and economic cooperation in the region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Discussions continue between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on various sections of the border, the longest border with another country for each of these countries.

Sections of the Una river and villages at the base of Mount Plješevica are in Croatia, while some are in Bosnia, which causes an excessive number of border crossings on a single route and impedes any serious development in the region. The Zagreb-Bihać-Split railway line is still closed for major traffic due to this issue. The road Karlovac-Plitvice lakes-Knin, which is on the European route E71, is becoming increasingly unused because Croatia built a separate highway to the west of it.

The border on the Una river between Hrvatska Kostajnica on the northern, Croatian side of the river, and Bosanska Kostajnica on the southern, Bosnian side, is also being discussed. A river island between the two towns is under Croatian control, but is claimed by Bosnia. A shared border crossing point has been built and has been functioning since 2003, and is used without hindrance by either party.

The Herzegovinian municipality of Neum in the south makes the southernmost part of Croatia an exclave and the two countries are negotiating special transit rules through Neum to compensate for that. Recently Croatia has opted to build a bridge to the Pelješac peninsula to connect the Croatian mainland with the exclave but Bosnia and Herzegovina has protested that it will close their way to international waters (although Croatian territory and territorial waters surround Bosnian-Herzegovinan ones completely) and has suggested that the bridge must be higher than 55 meters for free passage of all types of ships. Negotiations are still being held.


Croatia and Slovenia have several land and maritime boundary disputes. Croatia seeks international arbitration, which at first Slovenia opposed. Recently Slovenia proposed international arbitration if this would include the entire border between Croatia and Slovenia.

Slovenia claims that the maritime border in Piran Bay - known as Savudrija Bay by Croatians - does not go through the middle of the bay, while Croatia claims it does. This is causing problems for fishermen due to there being an undefined area where the naval police of each country may patrol.

Related to the border in Piran Bay is Slovenian access to international waters in the form of a corridor which would require Croatia to cede its exclusive rights over at least some of its territorial waters to the west of Umag. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that a coastal state is able to assert its exclusive right to manage all natural resources in a band up to from its shore (an 'exclusive economic zone'), and thus Slovenia's claim to access to the open sea may have a weak legal basis However, when Slovenia notified the UN Secretariat in 1995 of its succession to Yugoslavia's ratification of the Convention, it included a note saying that this system of exclusive economic zones has become part of international law and asserted its rights as a geographically disadvantaged state. Although the convention does make it clear that any decision to declare an exclusive economic zone should be made in co-operation with all interested parties, Croatian sources claim that Slovenia's self-description as a geographically disadvantaged state amounts to an admission that it is a country without access to international waters

A small number of pockets of land on the right-hand side of the river Dragonja in Istria have remained under Croatian jurisdiction after the river was re-routed after the Second World War. This area is located near the Sečovlje-Plovanija official border crossing point (set up by an interim agreement of the two countries in the 1990s).

The area around the peak of the Žumberak/Gorjanci mountain is assigned partly to Slovenia (the Trdinov vrh area) and partly to Croatia (the Sveta Gera area). However, an old Yugoslav People's Army barracks building on the Croatian part of the border is still occupied by a small number of Slovenian army personnel.

Slovenia is disputing Croatia's claim to establish an economic section of the Adriatic, requiring direct access to the international waters. Croatia decided to pursue a policy of stricter control over fishing and other economic use of the sea. This policy has been in place since late 2004 but excludes the EU countries (namely, Slovenia and Italy).

Other issues that have yet to be fully resolved include:


In late 2002, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro adopted an interim agreement to settle the disputed Prevlaka peninsula at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor in Croatia's favour, allowing the withdrawal of the UN monitoring mission. This agreement applies to Montenegro since its independence. Full demilitarization of the area is pending.


Due to the meandering of the Danube, the eastern border of Baranja with Serbia according to cadastral delineation is not followed, as each country controls territory on their side of the main river flow. Further south, near Vukovar and near Šarengrad, there are two river islands (Vukovarska ada and Šarengradska ada) which have been part of SR Croatia (during Yugoslavia) but during the war they came under Serbian control. Croatia is asking that the islands be returned because of the Badinter Arbitration Committee decision from 1991 that all internal borders between Yugoslav republics have become international. Serbia is refusing to return the islands (and disregards the committee decision) with the explanation that they are nearer to the Serbian side of the river so they are Serbian Military occupation of the islands ended recently after an incident in which Serbian military opened fire and arrested the mayor of Vukovar Vladimir Štengel with 19 other Croatian civilians and 8 children who were going to visit Zvezdan Kisić the mayor of the Serbian town Bačka Palanka These Croatian islands are now under Serbian police control.


Croatia and Italy continue to debate bilateral property and ethnic minority rights issues stemming from border changes after World War II.

There are a number of people who are Italian citizens but who had previously been citizens of Yugoslavia before they were exiled shortly after World War II - known as the esuli (exiles) or optanti (volunteers). A later contract between SFR Yugoslavia and Italy prevented the restitution of their property since a deal was made that treated this seized property as war reparations.

Nevertheless, there are now at least two groups of people dissatisfied with the situation:

  • people who were exiled during a period not covered by the aforementioned agreement (post 1956?) who demand that their property be returned
  • the people who were exiled and/or their children who wish to buy real-estate in the same areas (if not the same buildings or land)

Neither of these are allowed to pursue these actions legally in Croatia.

Another problem that arose a couple of years ago deals with the fishing zones in the Adriatic sea. Italy denies the right of Croatia to proclaim its own fishing zone before January 1st 2008, because that would break an earlier agreement with Italy and Slovenia . At the same time Italy, without breaking the agreement, has proclaimed its own zone.

Diplomatic Relations

States with which Croatia has established diplomatic relations

State Date of Establishment of Relations
Austria January 15, 1992
Germany January 15, 1992
Italy January 17, 1992
Hungary January 18, 1992
Sweden January 29, 1992
Switzerland January 30, 1992
Denmark February 1, 1992
Portugal February 3, 1992
Liechtenstein February 4, 1992
Slovenia February 6, 1992
Holy See February 8, 1992
The Netherlands February 11, 1992
Australia February 13, 1992
Latvia February 14, 1992
Ukraine February 18, 1992
Finland February 19, 1992
Norway February 20, 1992
New Zealand February 25, 1992
Estonia March 2, 1992
Spain March 9, 1992
Belgium March 10, 1992
Paraguay March 13, 1992
Lithuania March 18, 1992
Macedonia March 30, 1992
Poland April 11, 1992
Argentina April 13, 1992
Chile April 15, 1992
Iran April 18, 1992
France April 24, 1992
Luxembourg April 29, 1992
Malaysia May 4, 1992
People's Republic of China May 13, 1992
Russia May 25, 1992
United Arab Emirates June 23, 1992
United Kingdom June 24, 1992
Morocco June 26, 1992
Iceland June 30, 1992
Malta June 30, 1992
India July 9, 1992
Sudan July 17, 1992
Greece July 20, 1992
Moldova July 20, 1992
Bosnia and Herzegovina July 21, 1992
United States of America August 11, 1992
Bulgaria August 13, 1992
Albania August 25, 1992
Turkey August 26, 1992
Romania August 29, 1992
Indonesia September 3, 1992
Thailand September 9, 1992
Cuba September 23, 1992
Belarus September 25, 1992
Egypt October 1, 1992
Venezuela October 9, 1992
Algeria October 15, 1992
Kazakhstan October 20, 1992
South Korea November 18, 1992
South Africa November 19, 1992
Singapore November 23, 1992
Bolivia November 26, 1992
North Korea November 30, 1992
Qatar December 5, 1992
Mexico December 6, 1992
Sovereign Military Order of Malta December 22, 1992
Guatemala December 22, 1992
Brazil December 23, 1992
Czech Republic January 1, 1993
Slovakia January 1, 1993
Nigeria January 7, 1993
Peru January 12, 1993
Yemen January 17, 1993
Bahrain January 18, 1993
Tunisia January 30, 1993
Georgia February 1, 1993
Cyprus February 4, 1993
San Marino February 11, 1993
Ghana February 17, 1993
Philippines February 25, 1993
Japan March 5, 1993
Mongolia March 10, 1993
Canada April 14, 1993
Uruguay May 4, 1993
São Tomé and Príncipe May 23, 1993
Tanzania July 2, 1993
Togo December 20, 1993
Tonga December 20, 1993
Samoa March 8, 1994
Jordan June 29, 1994
Viet Nam July 1, 1994
Armenia July 8, 1994
Pakistan July 20, 1994
Kuwait August 10, 1994
Cape Verde August 13, 1994
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines October 7, 1994
Angola November 16, 1994
Lebanon December 5, 1994
Azerbaijan January 26, 1995
Ireland January 27, 1995
Uzbekistan February 6, 1995
Colombia April 25, 1995
Andorra April 28, 1995
Burkina Faso May 18, 1995
Saudi Arabia June 8, 1995
Mali September 20, 1995
Zambia September 20, 1995
Côte d'Ivoire October 17, 1995
Ethiopia October 17, 1995
Guinea-Bissau October 19, 1995
Costa Rica October 19, 1995
Afghanistan January 3, 1996
Belize January 23, 1996
Ecuador February 22, 1996
Laos March 4, 1996
Nicaragua March 29, 1996
Panama June 12, 1996
Turkmenistan July 2, 1996
Mozambique August 23, 1996
Serbia and Montenegro (seceded by Montenegro) September 9, 1996
Cambodia September 10, 1996
Jamaica October 9, 1996
Kyrgyzstan December 23, 1996
Sri Lanka February 14, 1997
Maldives April 8, 1997
El Salvador July 24, 1997
Syria August 29, 1997
Mauritius September 3, 1997
Israel September 4, 1997
Seychelles September 30, 1997
Senegal October 1, 1997
Saint Lucia December 10, 1997
Suriname December 17, 1997
Nepal February 6, 1998
The Gambia October 16, 1998
Lesotho November 6, 1998
Uganda March 10, 1999
Eritrea June 4, 1999
Comoros June 29, 1999
Myanmar (Burma) September 3, 1999
Chad September 17, 1999
Antigua and Barbuda September 20, 1999
Honduras September 20, 1999
Grenada May 19, 2000
Nauru December 14, 2000
Benin March 26, 2001
Gabon October 22, 2001
Mauritania November 11, 2004
Iraq January 5, 2005
Montenegro July 7, 2006
Sources: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia
Collection of International Treaties (entry on Syria)
Collection of International Treaties (entry on Lebanon

See also


External links

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