Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Egypt/Saudi Arabia: Supreme Constitutional Court Halts Decision of High Administrative Court Concerning Maritime Border Demarcation Agreement

(July 5, 2017) On June 21, 2017, the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt repealed all the decisions issued by the High Administrative Court on the Egyptian-Saudi Maritime Border Demarcation Agreement. The repeal is temporary until the Supreme Constitutional Court decides whether or not the bilateral agreement is constitutional. (Egypt’s Constitutional Court Halts all Verdicts on Transfer of Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia, DAILY SABAH (June 21, 2017).)

On January 16, 2017, the High Administrative Court of Egypt had rejected the Egyptian government’s appeal against a decision issued by a court of first instance that repealed a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on maritime demarcation. The agreement included the transfer of sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir Islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. The High Administrative Court declared that the Government of Egypt had failed to submit to the Court any documents proving Saudi sovereignty over the two islands. Accordingly, the Court decided to reject the appeal of the Egyptian government.  (Nour Youssef, Egyptian Court Blocks Plan to Transfer Two Islands to Saudi Arabia, NEW YORK TIMES (Jan. 16, 2017).)

In response to the High Administrative Court’s decision, the government has filed a new case before the Supreme Constitutional Court seeking to repeal the ruling.  This action is the last step in the process of appealing administrative court decisions.  (Id.)

The Supreme Court decision came one week after the Egyptian parliament’s ratification of the agreement. On June 14, 2017, in a general session, the Egyptian Council of Representatives (the parliament) ratified the maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Based on this bilateral agreement, Egypt would cede its territorial rights to the two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.  (Egypt Parliament to Vote on Islands Deal After Defence Committee Approval, NEW ARAB (June 14, 2017); George Sadek, Egypt/Saudi Arabia: Egyptian Parliament Ratifies Maritime Border Demarcation Agreement, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (June 26, 2017).)