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Burkina Faso, Niger ask ICJ for peaceful settlement of border dispute

African neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger asked [record, in French, PDF] the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] at a public sitting on Monday for a peaceful settlement of the longstanding and ongoing border dispute between the two former French colonies. In what is known as the "frontier dispute," the ICJ will be asked to determine the course of the boundary [AP report] between the two countries from the astronomic marker of Tong-Tong to the beginning of the Botou bend, two areas that seemingly overlap across the border. Burkina Faso argues that the area between the landlocked West African nations was established in 1927 but never formally marked, thus leading to ongoing doubts about the exact border. Pursuant to their Special Agreement, both countries agree to accept the court's judgment and abide by its terms. Public hearings on the frontier dispute will continue throughout this week and next week, as determined by the ICJ last March [press release, PDF]. Burkina Faso and Niger jointly submitted their claim [press release, PDF] to the court in July 2010.

In addition to the African frontier dispute, the ICJ was also considered to handle a territorial dispute in Asia between South Korea and Japan. In August South Korea rejected a proposal [JURIST report] by Japan to have the ICJ resolve a continuing argument regarding a group of islands to which each nation claims possession. The islands, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, are believed to contain valuable natural gas deposits. Only a few days before the rejection, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba [official website, in Japanese] urged South Korea [JURIST report] to allow the ICJ to resolve the dispute. The hostility between the two countries over the islands escalated when South Korean President Lee Myung Bak [official website, in Korean] made a surprise visit to the islands [Al Jazeera report]. In March 2005 Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro [official profile] mentioned that the ICJ could be a good forum for resolving the dispute over the islands. Earlier in March 2005, a Japanese prefecture approved a symbolic resolution [JURIST report] calling for the creation of "Takeshima Day" to celebrate Japan's alleged sovereignty over the islands.

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