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LAKE LANOUX ARBITRATION (FRANCE v.

SPAIN)

Facts

Lake Lanoux is situated in southern France near the border of Spain. The lake is fed by several streams
that all originate in France. Water flows out of the lake in a single stream that joins the Carol River
before crossing into Spain. In the 1950's, France began developing a plan to divert water from Lake
Lanoux over a 789 meter drop to generate hydroelectric energy. Even though France promised to return
the diverted water to the Carol River, Spain pressed France to arbitrate the dispute because Spain
believed the plan would violate its water rights under a series of treaties signed in 1866.

Art. 11

Imposes on the States in which it is proposed to erect words or to grant


new concessions likely to change the course or the volume of a
successive watercourse a double obligation. One is to give a prior notice
to the competent authorities of the frontier district; the other is to set
up machinery for dealing with compensation claims and safeguards for
all interests involved on either side.

Issue
Could the execution of such works constitute a violation of the Treaty and of the Additional Act, because
it had been subject to preliminary agreement between the two Countries, or because other provisions
of Article 11 of the Additional Act concerning the negotiations between the two Countries had not been
observed?

Held:

No.

The arbitration tribunal rejected Spain's arguments because the French plan promised not to alter the
volume of water entering Spain through the Carol River.

Furthermore, the court stated, “In any case, we do not find either in the Treaty and the Additional Act of
26 May 1866, or in customary international law, any rule that prohibits one State, acting to safeguard its
legitimate interests, to put itself in a situation that would permit it in effect, in violation of its
international pledges to injure a neighbouring State even seriously.”

France had given notice of its projects in relation to Lake Lanoux, and this was not contested

France has maintained to the end the solution which consists in diverting the waters of the Carol to the
Ariège with full restitution. By making this choice, France is only making use of a right; the development
works of Lake Lanoux are on French territory, the financing of and responsibility for the enterprise fall
upon France, and France alone is the judge of works of public utility which are to be executed on her
own territory, save for the provisions of Articles 9 and 10 of the Additional Act, which, however, the
French scheme does not infringe