North Sea Continental Shelf Cases (Federal Republic of Germany/Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany/ Netherlands) I. C_J_ Reports 1969 Netherlands and Denmark had drawn partial boundary lines based on the equidistant principle (A-B and C-D)_ An agreement on further prolongation of the boundary proved difficult because Denmark and Netherlands wished this prolongation to take place based on the equidistant principle (B-E and D-E) where as Germany was of the view that, together, these two boundaries loud produce an inequitable result for her.
Germany stated that due to its concave coastline, such a line would result in her losing out on her share of the continental shelf based on proportionality to the length of its North Sea coastline. The Court had to decide the principles and rules of international law applicable to this delimitation. In doing so, the court had to decide if the principles espoused by the parties were binding on the parties either through treaty law or customary international law. The court rejected the argument of
Netherlands and Denmark that Germany is still bound by Article 6 of the Geneva Convention on Continental Shelf although she is not a party to the convention. The court stated that only a ‘very definite very consistent course of conduct on the part tot a State’ would allow the court to presume that a State had somehow become bound by a treaty (by a means other than in a formal manner: i. E. Ratification) when the State was ‘at all times fully able and entitled to… ‘ accept the treaty commitments in a formal manner.
The Court held that Germany had not unilaterally assumed obligations under the Convention. The court also took notice of the fact that even if Germany ratified the treaty, she had the option of entering into a reservation on Article 6 following which that particular article would no longer be applicable to Germany that is even if one were to assume that Germany had intended to become a barge to the Convention, it does not presuppose that it would have also undertaken those Obligations contained in Article 6.
In conclusion, the court held that Germany had not acted in any way to incur Obligations contained in Article 6 Of the Geneva Convention. The equidistant, special circumstances rule was not binding on Germany by way of treaty. Netherlands and Denmark argued that Article 6 also reflected ‘the accepted rule of general international law on the subject of continental shelf delimitation’ and existed independently of the Convention. Therefore, they argued, Germany is bound by it by way of customary international law.