McGeorge School of Law

McCaffrey Takes On Two Cases In The Hague

February 11, 2011

Professor Steve McCaffrey, a veteran counsel at International Court of Justice cases, returned to The Hague, Netherlands, last month to participate in two new disputes.

From January 11 to 13, McCaffrey attended hearings regarding a new case that has arisen between Nicaragua and Costa Rica over the San Juan River that forms part of the border between the two Central American countries. McCaffrey was a member of the Nicaraguan legal team that won an ICJ victory in 2009 regarding that country's right to regulate Costa Rican commercial transport on the river. The current case involves Costa Rica's charges that Nicaragua's efforts to deepen part of the river channel are illegal. McCaffrey was one of three counsels who presented arguments in defense of his client's actions.

On January 14, McCaffrey took part as a member of the Indian legal team in the first meeting of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Kishenganga Dam (Pakistan v. India) case. The PCA hears cases in the Peace Palace, which also houses the International Court of Justice. Pakistan has launched a strenuous objection to a major new hydroelectric project that it fears will cause severe diversion of the river to the detriment of its downstream citizens.

McCaffrey, a former International law Commission chairman and one of the world's foremost authorities on non-navigational uses of international watercourse, has been a frequent participant in ICJ actions. In 2007, he was awarded The White Dual Cross Order for his service to Slovakia in its dispute with Hungary over a Danube River dam project. In 2009, he argued successfully for Uruguay in a dispute with Argentina involving a pulp mill on the Uruguayan side of the river that forms part of their South American border.