The in the English Channel and itswestern approaches in the Atlantic area posed problems during negotiationspreceding this landmark arbitration for two reasons. Firstly, theEnglish Channel , under British for purposes of foreignrelations, consist of an archipelagic formation of four main groupswith the principle islands of Alderney, Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, Herm andJethon. The islands are situated off the coast of , the closest, theisland of Ecrehos, being only 6.6 miles from the continent. Geologically,the islands are both linked to the English mainland by a basic continuityof the shelf, and also separated from it by a the trough of Hurd Deep, atrench of some 100 metres running a few miles north of the islands insouth-westerly direction for some 80 miles. Secondly, in the western part(or the western approaches or Atlantic area), both states show atypicalcoastal configurations in the sense that they are neither in a clearlyopposite nor in a clearly adjacent constellation. Moreover, both partieshave islands: the Scilly Isles off the Cornish coast and the island of Ushant(Quessant) off the Brest peninsula. As possible base points, both groupsof islands could strongly influence the direction of the western boundaryextending into .Negotiations between France and the United Kingdom took placebetween 1970 and 1974 and reached a partial agreement. However,they failed to settle a boundary in the area 30 minutes west of theGreenwich meridian as far as the 1,000 metre isobath in the Atlanticregion. The case was submitted by Special Agreement to a Court ofArbitration. Unlike in the cases, these parties asked for a finaldelimitation of the .Britain argued that the Channel Islands are to be taken into full accountunder Article 6 of the 1958 Shelf Convention and that the requirements forconsidering were not met. The Islands' entitlementto a shelf was stressed, in accordance with Article 1(b) of the Convention.The United Kingdom further claimed a strict fully embracingthe islands in a deep loop towards the French coast, linking the shelf of theislands with that of the English mainland. France, on the other hand,argued that the islands should be completely ignored when drawing amedian line in the Channel. Instead, the line should be measured fromthe French and English coasts. With regard to the south-westernapproaches (or the Atlantic area), the United Kingdom argued that thetwo coasts were opposite, and that no proof existed to justify the use ofspecial circumstances to depart from the median line. Full effect should begiven to both the Scilly Islands and the Island of Ushant, leaving the resultsimilar to that under customary . The United Kingdom went on toassert that if the median line were to be departed from, this could only bedone by relying on the natural boundary of the Hurd Deep Fault Zone, acontinuation of the Hurd Deep to the south-west and south of the medianline. France, on the other side, proposed a median line consisting of a linebisecting the general directions of the coastlines of the English andthe French coasts (lignes de lissages). It…

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