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Romania; Ukraine; United Nations: Decision on Black Sea Boundaries

(Feb. 12, 2009) The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation's highest court, issued a unanimous ruling on February 3, 2009, marking the sea border between Ukraine and Romania in the Black Sea. Public hearings in the case had been held in September 2008. (Case Concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine), ICJ website, Feb. 3, 2009, available at

Ukraine had argued that since it owns Serpent Island, located in the Sea, it is entitled to exclusive rights to the undersea area. Romania disputed that claim. The ICJ agreed with Romania and awarded it control of 80% of the region under consideration. The undersea area is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons, with deposits of both natural gas and crude oil. The case had been initiated in 2004 by Romania filing a complaint against Ukraine, following the failure of many efforts to settle the issue in bilateral negotiations. (UN Court Splits Waters of Black Sea Between Ukraine and Romania, UN NEWS CENTRE, Feb. 3, 2009, available at