Beagle Channel Arbitration

On 1971 July 22 Salvador Allende and Alejandro Lanusse, Presidents of Chile and Argentina, signed an [ Arbitration Agreement of 1971] formally submitting the dispute concerning the territorial and maritime boundaries between them and the title to the islands Picton, Nueva and Lennox near the extreme end of the American continent to binding arbitration under auspices of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

On 2 May 1977 the court ruled that the islands and all adjacent formations belonged to Chile. See the [ Report and decision of the Court of Arbitration] .On 25 January 1978 Argentina repudiated the British arbitration and on 22 December 1978 started (and aborted few hours later) the Operation Soberanía in order to invade the islands and continental Chile [See Argentine newspaper [ Clarín] of Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998] .

The Court

The British Crown had already acted as Arbitrator between Chile and Argentina in 1902 (See [ here] ) and 1966, but given the growing dispute in the Falklands between Argentina and the United Kingdom the parties agreed to change the statutory framework of the Arbitration.

The Arbitration Agreement of 1971 stipulated:
* the names of the 5 judges appointed (see preamble of Arbitration Agreement):
** Hardy C. Dillard United States of America
** Gerald Fitzmaurice United Kingdom
** André Gros France
** Charles D. Onyeama Nigeria
** Sture Petrén Sweden
* the region where the court have to define the borderline (A Polygon ABCDEF, known as "Hammer", see paragraph 4, Article 1 of Arbitration Agreement)
* the court of arbitration's final decision would be submitted to the British Crown, which was then to recommend acceptance or rejection of the award of the court but not to modify it. (Article XIII of Arbitration Agreement)
* The Court of Arbitration shall reach its conclusions in accordance with the principles of international law.
* Each of the Parties shall defray its own expenses and one half of the expenses of the Court of Arbitration and of Her Britannic Majesty's Government in relation to the Arbitration.

On this way the United Kingdom did not have any influence on the genesis of the judgement. The procedure, the legal framework, the judges and the matter in dispute had been defined together by both countries.


The procedures had four phases:

# The "Memorials" (starting from 1 January 1973) for the delivery of written pleadings, annexes and maps.
# The "Counter-Memorials" (starting from 2 June 1974) for the responses.
# The "Replies" (starting from 1 June 1975) for comments.
# The "Oral proceedings" (starting from 7 November 1975 to 23. October 1976) for oral Statements that were delivered in English or French at the Speaker's choice, a simultaneous translation into English being provided in the latter case.

Chile handed over 14 volumes and 213 maps and Argentina 12 volumes and 195 maps to the Court.

During the first fortnight of March 1976 the Court, accompanied by the Registrar and Liaison Officers from both sides visited the Beagle Channel region, and inspected the islands and waterways concerned, first on the ChileanNaval Transport Vessel "Aquiles", and then on the Argentine Naval Transport Vessel "ARA Bahia Aguirre".


In Bordertreaty of 1855 Chile and Argentina agreed to retain the borders of the Spanish colonial administration. This principle well-known as Uti possidetis in the jurisdiction, served two purposes: first was to divide the territory under the two countries and second to prevent Res nullius areas which could have been taken in possession by others powers (read United States of America, UK, France, etc). But in fact, the Beagle Channel was unknown until 1830 and there were no Spanish settlements south of Chiloé.

The Bordertreaty of 1881 described, without any map, the course of the 3000 km border over:
* the Andes mountains (from north to parallel 52°S: ‘the highest peaks which divide the waters’) (Article I),
* in the region north and through of the Strait of Magellan (mainly the parallel 52°S) (Article II) and
* in the Tierra del Fuego-Beagle Channel region (Article III).

The controversial articles II and III of the Border treaty of 1881 are:

:Article II):"In the southern part of the continent, and to the north of the Straits of Magellan, the boundary between the two countries shall be a line, which starting from Point Dungeness, shall be prolonged overland as far as Mount Dinero; thence it shall continue westward, following the highest elevations of the chain of hills existing there, until it strikes the height of Mount Aymont. From this point the line shall be prolonged up to the intersection of meridian 70° W., with parallel 52° S. and thence it shall continue westward coinciding with this latter parallel as far as the divortium aquarum of the Andes. The territories lying to the north of said line shall belong to the Argentine Republic, and to Chili those which extend to the south, without prejudice to the provisions of Art. 3d concerning Tierra del Fuego and the adjacent islands".

:Article III):"In Tierra del Fuego a line shall be drawn, which starting from the point called Cape Espiritu Santo, in parallel 52°40 shall be prolonged to the south along the meridian 68°34 west of Greenwich until it touches Beagle Channel. Tierra del Fuego, divided in this manner, shall be Chilean on the western side and Argentine on the eastern. As for the islands, to the Argentine Republic shall belong Staten Island, the small islands next to it, and the other islands there may be on the Atlantic to the east of Tierra del Fuego and of the eastern coast of Patagonia; and to Chile shall belong all the islands to the south of Beagle Channel up to Cape Horn, and those there may be to the west of Tierra del Fuego".

Under Oceanic principle understood Argentina an interpretation of the Uti possidetis doctrin, according to which during the colonial administration Chile, (then Kingdom of Chile) could not have an entrance to the Atlantic Ocean and Argentina (then Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata) could not have an entrance to the Pacific Ocean. Argentine saw in the protocols of 1902 a reaffirmation of this principle. In this first arms control pact of the world, both countries agreed that the Chilean navy should have enough ships to defend the interests of Chile in the Pacific, and the Argentine navy should have enough ships to defend the interests of Argentina in the Atlantic. Chile does not consider the protocol as a border treaty and hence the limit between the Pacific and the Atlantic have never been defined.

To overcome the contradictory interests of both countries, they decided 1881 to do a transaction. However, nearly one century later there ware no mutual consent, what the transaction consisted of, which was very important to understand the spirit of the contract. Chile stated to have renounced to its rights to the eastern Patagonien (today continental south Argentina) in order to obtain the full possession of the Magellan Strait. Argentina stated, Chile would have received the Strait of Magellan for its renouncement to (all) Atlantic coasts.

About the channel course there were discrepancies. The eastern end of the channel can be seen as a delta with an east-west arm and a north-south arm (around the Navarino Island). Chile saw the east-west arm as the channel specified in the Border treaty of 1881. Argentina saw the north-south arm as the true channel. Following this controversy, there were two clauses in order to determine the possession of the islands. Chile argued with the Channel clause ("… to Chile shall belong all the islands to the south of Beagle Channel up to Cape Horn,…"), on the other hand Argentina drew its rights from the Atlantic clause ("… the other islands there may be on the Atlantic to the east of Tierra del Fuego …").

Some Chileans argued that the text "until it touches Beagle Channel" in article III means that Argentina have no navigable waters in the Beagle Channel, also a "costa seca" (dry beach) land. Such interpretation was not supported by the Chilean Claim.

The judgement

The unanimous judgement was handed over to Queen Elizabeth II on 18 April 1977. The French judge André Gros gave a dissenting vote, but not concerning the result but the reason. Queen Elizabeth II announced on 2 May 1977 the judgement to the governments of both countries.

The border runs approximately by the center of the channel and awarded Chile and Argentina sovereignty over navigable waters in the Channel:

::"the Court considers it as amounting to an overriding general principle of law that, in absence of express provision to the contrary, an attribution of territory must ipso facto carry with it the waters appurtenant to the territory attributed" (§107 Report and Decision of the Court of Arbitration)."

The island Whaits, the islets Snipe, Eugenia, Solitario, Hermanos, Gardiner and Reparo and the bank Herradura were awarded Chile, this all lie near the southern bank of the Beagle Channel.

Argentina were awarded all islands, islets and rocks near the north coast of the channel: Bridges, Eclaireurs, Gable, Becasses, Martillo and Yunque.

At the eastern end of the Channel, the judgement recognizes the sovereignty Chiles over the islands Picton, Nueva and Lennox and all its adjacent islets and rocks.

The projection (200 sm) of the islands, according to the maritime law, determined a deep Chilean entrance in the Atlantic.

The reasons of the Court

The reaction to the judgement

Chile accepted the judgement immediately and enacted a law with it on 14 June 1977 ( [ decree n°416] over the base lines).

On 25 January 1978 Argentina repudiated the British arbitration award. According to Argentina [A refutation in detail of the Argentine Thesis can be seen in [ Der Schiedsspruch in der Beagle-Kanal-Streitigkeit] , Karin Oellers-Frahm, Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht) in German Language] :
# the Argentine argumentation was distorted represented.
# the Court have judged over topics outside of reference
# the Court have drawn contradictory conclusions.
# the Court have committed interpretation errors.
# the judgement contains geographical and historical errors.
# the Court have not been balanced with the weighting of the argumentation and evidence each party.

The Argentine rights over the Beagle Channel could not be sustained from a legal and juristical point of view and in practice many of the nullity assertions were far more subjective than the declaration of nullity suggestsSee [ The Impact of International Law on International Cooperation] of Eyal Benvenisti and Moshe Hirsch, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 316 pages, ISBN 0521835542 chapter "Compliance and non-compliance with international norms in territorial disputes: The Latin-American record of arbitrations" of Arie M. Kacowicz, temporarily [,M1 here] page 212] .


The court awarded navigable waters on the north bank of the eastern part of the Channel to Argentina, but otherwise it fulfilled all Chilean demands. Even if it concerns only small islands, their projection on the Atlantic gave a deep entrance into the Atlantic ocean to Chile and these cut the projection of Argentina on the Antarctic.

The award was a defeat for the Argentine foreign policy and its refusal initiated an uncoupling from the international community, which lead Argentina three years later into the Falklands war.

The refusal of the award led 1978 both countries into an escalation to at the edge of a war. On 22 December 1978 Argentina started the Operation Soberanía, in order to invade the islands. Only papal mediation stopped in last minute the outbreak of an armed conflict.

The arbitration was completely separate from the Falkland Islands issue, a fact, that is often obfuscated or public denied in Argentina. The award is presented often as a plot of England in order to impute prejudice in this way [See for example the book "Argentina en el Atlántico, Chile en el Pacífico" of Isaac Rojas
Isaac Francisco Rojas
Page 45: "S.M. Isabel II nombró un consejo para que la asesorase" (Translate: " "). The book is approved for teaching by the Argentine Ministry of Education for the middle schools and the universities (circular nr. 191/78 und Disposición nr. 961/78 de S.N.E.P)
] [See Argentine Newspaper Clarín 2. February 2005 [] :"«…el laudo del 18 de abril de 1977 de un tribunal, que, en 1971, la dictadura de Alejandro A. Lanusse había aceptado que estuviera bajo el influjo de la corona británica…»" (Translation:"«… …»")] .

Chile keep in mind the repudiatory breach of contract [See notes of the Chilean Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza, in [,0,3255_5664_9525990,00.html La Tercera] de Santiago de Chile vom 13. Juli 1998 : "Enfatizó que, si bien la situación es diferente, lo que hoy está ocurriendo con el Tratado de Campo de Hielo Sur hace recordar a la opinión pública lo sucedido en 1977, durante la disputa territorial por el Canal de Beagle."] [See notes of Senator (not elected but named by the Armed Forces) Jorge Martínez Bush im [,0,3255_5664_9511527,00.html La Tercera] de Santiago de Chile vom 26 Juli 1998: "El legislador expuso que los chilenos mantienen "muy fresca" en la memoria la situación creada cuando Argentina declaró nulo el arbitraje sobre el canal del Beagle, en 1978."] [See notes of the Chilean Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker [ Clarin] de B.A., 22 July 2005: "Y está en la retina de los chilenos el laudo de Su Majestad Británica, en el Beagle, que fue declarado insanablemente nulo por la Argentina. Esa impresión todavía está instalada en la sociedad chilena."] [See also "Reciprocidad en las Relaciones Chile - Argentina" of Andrés Fabio Oelckers Sainz in [ PDF] : "También en Chile, todavía genera un gran rechazo el hecho que Argentina declarase nulo el fallo arbitral británico y además en una primera instancia postergara la firma del laudo papal por el diferendo del Beagle" ] [See notes of Director académico de la Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Flacso, Francisco Rojas, in Santiago de Chile, in [ La Nación] de Buenos Aires vom 26 September 1997: "Desde la Argentina, cuesta entender el nivel de desconfianza que hoy existe en Chile a propósito de la decisión que tomó en 1978 de declarar nulo el laudo arbitral"] [See notes of Chilean Defense Minister Edmundo Pérez Yoma im "Centro Superior de Estudios de la Defensa Nacional del Reino de España", apperead in Argentine newspaper [ El Cronista Comercial] , 5 Mai 1997: " ... Y que la Argentina estuvo a punto de llevar a cabo una invasión sobre territorio de Chile en 1978 ...". These notes were later relativized by the Chilean Government (See [] [] )] .

The award brought the military dictatorships on both sides to the border on a unique and paradoxes situation: In Chile they celebrated the "wise" decision of the (overthrown) enemy Allende, and in Argentina they criticized the "imprudent" decision her former colleague at power, general Lanusse.

The award was recognized later by Argentina in the Friendship and Peace Treaty of 1984. [The Treaty of 1984 does not concern about the affiliation of the islands Picton, Nueva, Lennox, etc, instead of this, it reaffirms its subordination to the Border treaty of 1881 and " … sus instrumentos complementarios y declaratorios… " (Translation: "… their supplementing and right-determining instruments…") and in article VII it defines the maritime border " … A partir del término de la delimitación existente en el Canal Beagle, esto es, el punto fijado por las coordenadas 55°07.3 de latitud Sur y 66°25.0 de longitud Oeste,… " , (translation: … starting from the end of the existing boundaries in the Beagle channel, which is, the point of the coordinates 55°07,3 S and 66°25,0 W …), that is the point at the eastern end of the Beagle channel, defined by the award). The islands remained under Chilean sovereignty, but the maritime border was shifted to the west.]

See also

* Falklands War
* Argentina-Chile relations
* Foreign relations of Argentina
* Foreign relations of Chile



* Beagle Channel Arbitration between the Republic of Argentina and the Republic of Chile, [ "Report and Decision of the Court of Arbitration"]
* Mark Laudy: [ "The Vatican Mediation of the Beagle Channel Dispute: Crisis Intervention and Forum Building"] in [ Words Over War] of Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict.
* Alejandro Luis Corbacho: [ "Predicting the Probability of War During Brinkmanship Crises: The Beagle and the Malvinas Conflicts"] , Universidad del CEMA, Argentina, Documento de Trabajo No. 244, September 2003, Spanish Language
* Karin Oellers-Frahm: [ "Der Schiedsspruch in der Beagle-Kanal-Streitigkeit"] , Berichte und Urkunden: Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, German Language
* Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile: "Relaciones Chileno-Argentinas, La controversia del Beagle". Genf 1979, English and Spanish Language
* Andrea Wagner: "Der argentinisch-chilenische Konflikt um den Beagle-Kanal. Ein Beitrag zu den Methoden friedlicher Streiterledigung". Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt a.M. 1992, ISBN 3-631-43590-8, German Language
* Karl Hernekamp: "Der argentinisch-chilenisch Grenzstreit am Beagle-Kanal". Institut für Iberoamerika-Kunde, Hamburg 1980, German Language
* Andrés Cisneros y Carlos Escudé, "Historia general de las Relaciones Exteriores de la República Argentina", [ Las relaciones con Chile] , Cema, Argentina, Buenos Aires. Spanish Language
* Annegret I. Haffa: "Beagle-Konflikt und Falkland (Malwinen)-Krieg. Zur Außenpolitik der Argentinischen Militarregierung 1976-1983". Weltforum Verlag, München/Köln/London 1987, ISBN 3-8039-0348-3, German Language
* Isaac F. Rojas und Arturo Medrano: "Argentina en el Atlántico Chile en el Pacífico". Editorial Nemont, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1979, in spanischer Sprache.
* Isaac F. Rojas, "La Argentina en el Beagle y Atlántico sur 1. Parte". Editorial Diagraf, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Spanish Language
* Carlos Escudé und Andrés Cisneros: "Historia general de las relaciones exteriores de la República Argentina" ( [ here] ), in spanischer Sprache.
* Fabio Vio Valdivieso: "La mediación de su S.S. el Papa Juan Pablo II", Editorial Aconcagua, Santiago de Chile, 1984, Spanish Language
* Alberto Marín Madrid: "El arbitraje del Beagle y la actitud argentina". 1984, Editorial Moisés Garrido Urrea, id = A-1374-84 XIII, Spanisch Language
* Luis Alberto Romero, "Argentina in the twentieth Century". Pennsylvania State University Press, translated by James P. Brennan, 1994, ISBN 0-271-02191-8
* Divisionsgeneral (a.D.) Juan E. Gugliamelli: "Cuestión del Beagle. Negociación directa o diálogo de armas" (Trans.:"The Beagle-Question, direct Negotiations or Dialog of the Weapons"), in Spanish Language. (Book compiled from articles of Argentine Magazin "Estrategia", Buenos Aires Nr:49/50, enero-febrero 1978, erschienen sind.
* General Martín Antonio Balza und Mariano Grondona: "Dejo Constancia: memorias de un general argentino". Editorial Planeta, Buenos Aires 2001, ISBN 9504908136, Spanish Language
* Francisco Bulnes Serrano und Patricia Arancibia Clavel: "La Escuadra En Acción". Chile, Editorial Grijalbo, 2004, ISBN 9562582116, Spanish Language

External links

* Chilean Telecast of Televisión Nacional de Chile "Informe Especial", Theme "El año que vivimos en peligro", (sometimes in [ YouTube] ), Spanish Language
* Argentine Telecast of History Channel: "Operativo Soberanía" [ YouTube] , Spanish Language
* Special edition of [ El Mercurio] , Santiago de Chile, 2 September 2005, Spanish Language. There are Interviews with contemporary witness like Ernesto Videla, Jaime Del Valle, Helmut Brunner, Marcelo Delpech und Luciano Benjamín Menéndez. Spanish Language.
* Interview with the (later, in the nineties) Chief Commander of the Argentine Army Martín Balza in [ El Mercurio] de Santiago de Chile, 2 September 2005, Spanish Language
* Interview with Sergio Onofre Jarpa, Chile's Ambassador in Argentina 1978 to 1982 in [,0,3255_5714_1663242,00.html La Tercera] , Santiago, Chile, 17 March 2002, Spanish Language
* Interview with Argentine General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, Commandant of the III Army Corps in [ El Mercurio] de Santiago de Chile, (from the Argentine Magazine "Somos"), Spanish Language
* Interview with Pio Laghi, Nuntius in Argentina, 1978, in [ Clarín] , Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998. Spanish Language
* Interview with the Ambassador of the United States of America in Argentina, Raúl Héctor Castro, in [ Clarín] Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998, Spanish Language
* Interview with the former Chief of the "Secretaría General del Ejército" (a Think-Tank of the Argentine Army), General Reynaldo Bignone, President of Argentina after the Falkland War, in [ Clarín] , Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998, Spanish Language
* Article "Cartas desde el Abismo", [ Clarín] , Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998, Spanish Language
* Article "El belicismo de los dictadores" [ Clarín] , Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998, Spanish Language
* Article "Beagle: historia secreta de la guerra que no fue" [ La Nación] , Buenos Aires, 12. August 1996, Spanish Language
* Article "Historia de la santa mediación" en [ Clarín] , Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998, Spanish Language
* [ Chile-Argentina Relations] , Spanish Language
* [ "Toma de decisiones políticas y la influencia de los discursos oficialistas durante el Connflicto del Beagle: Chile - Argentina 1977-1979"] , Spanish Language
* Text of the [ "Tratado de Paz y Amistad de 1984"] , Dirección de Fronteras y Límites de Chile, Spanish Language
* Text of the [ "Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1984"] , Copy to the United Nations, English Language

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Beagle Channel cartography since 1881 — The Beagle Conflict Main: Beagle conflict 1881–1970: Beagle Channel cartography 1958: Snipe incident 1971–1977: Beagle Channel Arbitration 1977–1978: Direct Negotiations …   Wikipedia

  • Beagle conflict — The Beagle Conflict was a border dispute between Chile and Argentina over the possession of Picton, Lennox and Nueva islands and the scope of the maritime jurisdiction associated with those islands.The islands are strategicly located off the… …   Wikipedia

  • Beagle-Kartographie ab 1881 — Der Beagle Konflikt Hauptartikel: Beagle Konflikt 1881–1970: Beagle Kartographie ab 1881 1971–1977: Internationales Schiedsgericht 1977–1978: Direkte Verhandlungen 1978: Operation Soberania …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Beagle-Konflikt — Der Beagle Konflikt Hauptartikel: Beagle Konflikt 1881–1970: Beagle Kartographie ab 1881 1971–1977: Internationales Schiedsgericht 1977–1978: Direkte Verhandlungen 1978: Operation Soberania …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Schiedsgericht im Beagle-Konflikt — Der Beagle Konflikt Hauptartikel: Beagle Konflikt 1881–1970: Beagle Kartographie ab 1881 1971–1977: Internationales Schiedsgericht 1977–1978: Direkte Verhandlungen 1978: Operation Soberania …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Papal mediation in the Beagle conflict — After the failure of the negotiations with Chile, on 22 December 1978 the Argentina Junta started the Operation Soberanía in order to invade the islands around Cape Horn awarded to Chile by the binding Beagle Channel Arbitration. A few hours… …   Wikipedia

  • Conflicto del Beagle — Existen desacuerdos sobre la neutralidad en el punto de vista de la versión actual de este artículo o sección. En la página de discusión puedes consultar el debate al respecto. Se conoce como Conflicto del Beagle al desacuerdo entre la República… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mediación papal en el conflicto del Beagle — Michelle Bachelet (Presidenta de Chile) y Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Presidenta de Argentina) en 2008, colocando un monolito en la frontera entre ambos países, recordando la mediación del Papa Juan Pablo II en 1978, que detuvo la guerra… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mapas del Canal Beagle desde 1881 — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda La zona del Canal Beagle, descubierto en la década de los años 30 del siglo 19, fue una de las últimas en ser colonizadas por Chile y Argentina. Su clima frío, su lejanía y la escasez de medios de vida y transporte… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mapas del canal Beagle desde 1881 — Existen desacuerdos sobre la neutralidad en el punto de vista de la versión actual de Aparecen casi solo mapas argentinos. En la página de discusión puedes consultar el debate al respecto. Nota: este artículo es una recopilación arbitraria y no… …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.