McGeorge School of Law

Uruguay, McCaffrey Win ICJ Decision

April 30, 2010

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in favor of Uruguay on April 20, 2010, in its dispute with neighboring Argentina in a case in which Professor Steve McCaffrey argued on behalf of Uruguay.

The case, Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay), arose from Argentina's environmental complaint against a pulp mill on the opposite side of the river that separates the two countries. Argentina sought a closure of the mill, but the ruling by 14 ICJ judges expressly upheld Uruguay's right to continue operating the plant, finding that Argentina failed to prove that it discharged pollutants harmful to the river or its surroundings.

McCaffrey and Maria Milanes-Murcia, a McGeorge JSD candidate in International Water Resources Law, spent three weeks in Netherlands last fall working on the case. Paul Reichler, an international specialist with Foley Hoag LLP in Washington, D.C., was the lead counsel for the Uruguayan legal team.

McCaffrey, one of the foremost authorities in the world on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses, has appeared before the ICJ on several previous occasions as a representative of governments involved in river and lake disputes.