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Court Bulletin: Finland v. Denmark

By: Ethan Lehman-Pace, Student Reporter*

In its ruling today, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decided in a 9-6 ruling that Denmark has no obligation to alter their existing bridge plans to accommodate shipments from Finland. At present, those plans do not include making the bridge height above 65 meters. 

In the late 1980s, Denmark reignited its goals to build a bridge between two of its islands in the “Great Belt,” a waterway under Danish control that serves as a major access point for Finland. Finland alleged that its traffic through the Belt would be limited due to the bridge’s height. Denmark countered that there were alternative passages that Finland could use.

The majority opinion highlighted a process by which taller ships would still be able to pass. This process is one where a well pump is assembled before a ship passes and disassembled after. A dissenting opinion alleged that a higher bridge height or a tunnel under the bridge would be suitable and provide a solution for both nations.

This case came after several attempts at a dialogue between the two nations. Finland filed a case to the ICJ after both prior attempts, in 1987 and 1988, to resolve the issue were ignored by Denmark.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article were part of a simulation of the United Nations held from 18 to 21 November 2023 and do not reflect the views and opinions of the American Model United Nations Conference, American Model United Nations International, LLC. or the governing bodies of the states mentioned in the article.

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