Following a series of unsuccessful attempts to resolve the dispute over their land and maritime boundary, Slovenia and Croatia, with the facilitation of the European Commission, signed on 4 November 2009 an arbitration agreement (1.7 MB) establishing an arbitral tribunal tasked with issuing a final award on the land and maritime boundary on the basis of all the relevant facts. This ruling will be final and binding on both countries (Article 7 of the Arbitration Agreement).
As specified in Article 3 of the Arbitration Agreement, the Arbitral Tribunal must determine:
- the course of the maritime and land boundary between the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia;
- Slovenia's junction to the High Sea;
- the regime for the use of the relevant maritime areas.
According to Article 4 of the Agreement, in its deliberations concerning the junction and the regime, the Arbitral Tribunal must apply the rules and principles of international law, as well as equity and the principle of good neighbourly relations in order to achieve a fair and just result. Furthermore, it must take into account all the relevant circumstances.
The search for the solution to Slovenia and Croatia's border dispute can be broken down into five phases:
- The period 1992–2002, which concluded with the Drnovšek–Račan Agreement (617 KB);
- The period 2002–2008, during which the governments negotiated on involving a third party;
- The period 2008-2009, when the Arbitration Agreement (1.7 MB) was signed;
- The period 2010–2014, which was marked by the entry into force of the Arbitration Agreement and the arbitration proceedings;
- The period after July 2015, when Croatia, in the light of the phone-tapping scandal, announced its intention to unilaterally terminate the Arbitration Agreement.
10 July 2015: the Arbitral Tribunal informs Slovenia and Croatia that the award can be expected in mid-December 2015.
22 July 2015: the Serbian and Croatian newspapers Kurir and Večernji list report about alleged phone conversations between the Slovenian agent, Simona Drenik, and arbitrator Jernej Sekolec, and proceeds by publishing audio recordings of the alleged conversations. The following day, the Slovenian agent Drenik and the arbitrator Sekolec resign; Slovenia does everything in its power to preserve the credibility of, and trust in, the Arbitral Tribunal.
Nevertheless, Croatia notifies Slovenia on 30 July and the Arbitral Tribunal on 31 July of its intention to terminate the Arbitration Agreement. The arbitrator, appointed by Croatia, dr. Budislav Vukas, also resigns. Slovenia rejects Croatia's intention to unilaterally terminate this international agreement and notifies the Arbitral Tribunal respectively.
25 September 2015: the President of the Arbitral Tribunal appoints new arbitrators.
2 December 2015: the Permanent Court of Arbitration announces that the Arbitral Tribunal will decide on questions arising from the letters sent by Slovenia and Croatia in July and August 2015 and invites the parties to make further submissions: Croatia by 15 January 2016 and Slovenia by 26 February 2016. In addition, it schedules a hearing in March 2016.
26 February 2016: Slovenia files its written submission; in accordance with Article 6, paragraph 5, of the Arbitration Agreement, the content is confidential.
17 March 2016: Slovenia presents its positions at a hearing held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The following day, the Court publishes a summary of the positions of both parties , noting that Croatia has not filed any written submission by 15 January 2016 or attended the hearing on 17 March 2016.
30 June 2016 The Arbitration Tribunal announces "Arbitration between Croatia and Slovenia to continue ". The Tribunal's partial award is available at the Permanent Court of Arbitration website.
Slovenia fully supports the Arbitral Tribunal and the arbitration proceedings, which will result in a legally-binding award on the border between the two countries in accordance with the Arbitration Agreement.
Who are the arbitrators
The Arbitral Tribunal consists of five arbitrators: three of them (Gilbert Guillaume, Vaughan Lowe, Bruno Simma) were appointed by the two countries from a list prepared by the European Commission, and each country appointed one arbitrator of their own: Slovenia appointed Jernej Sekolec (replaced by Ronny Abraham 28 July 2015, who resigned on 3 August 2015), while Croatia appointed Budislav Vukas (resigned 30 July 2015).
The Arbitral Tribunal appointed new arbitrators on 25 September 2015 Rolf Fife (N) and Nicolas Michel (CH) as national arbitrators.
The Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Gilbert Guillaume.
Arbitrators are to remain independent and impartial when carrying out their duties. The national arbitrator is to ensure that all main arguments put forth by the party which appointed them are appropriately deliberated; and is to remain independent and impartial when carrying out their duties.
An award shall always be made by a majority vote of the arbitrators. In the arbitration between Slovenia and Croatia no separate opinions are allowed.
Slovenia's representatives at the Permamnent Court of Arbitration
Slovenia is represented before the Permanent Court of Arbitration by:
- Agent: Mirjam Škrk (Simona Drenik resigned as Agent on 23 July 2015)
- Co-agent: Nataša Šebenik
- Counsel and Advocates: Alain Pellet, Sir Michael Wood (20 Essex Street), Rodman R. Bundy (Eversheds LLP), Daniel Müller and
- their assistants (Alina Miron, Eran Sthoeger, Natasha Harrington (Eversheds LLP) and Maja Menard).
The team representing Slovenia before the PCA also consists of:
- cartographers and hydrographers: Robin Claverly, Igor Karničnik, Martin Pratt, Primož Kete,
- members of the project section for advocacy before the Arbitral Tribunal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
- Héloïse Bajer-Pellet, office for legal-technical support during the oral hearing.