Resolving The Militarised Territorial Dispute Between Chad And Libya

Resolving The Militarised Territorial Dispute Between Chad And Libya

Year(s): 1990 – 1994.

Location: Aouzou Strip, Chad.

UN Regional Group: Africa.

Type of Conflict: Interstate Conflict, Risk of an Interstate Conflict.

Type of Initiative: Resolution of a militarised territorial dispute, a peacekeeping mission, and stabilising international borders.

Main Implementing Organisation(s): The Organisation of African Unity, the UN, and the International Court of Justice.

Impact: Lasting.

Summary: Following the International Court of Justice’s judgement of the dispute, the United Nations Aouzou Strip Observer Group monitored the withdrawal of Libyan troops from the area and helped ensure that the handover of the disputed territory to Chad went ahead peacefully.

Description of Case 

The Aouzou Strip is a piece of mineral-rich land along the Chadian-Libyan frontier in the Sahara Desert. Although a 1955 treaty between France and Libya had stipulated that the territory was a part of Chad, the rise of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya complicated the situation. He contested the validity of the treaty, citing an unratified agreement between fascist Italy and France which would have awarded the Strip to Libya. In 1973, amidst the chaos of the 1965 – 1979 Chadian Civil War, the Government of Libya annexed and occupied the Aouzou Strip.[1] By 1978, thousands of Libyan troops were fighting in support of Chadian rebels, leading the Government of Chad to bring the occupation of the Aouzou Strip to the UN Security Council alongside its protests concerning Libyan involvement in the war. With considerable French support, the Government of Chad eventually drove Libyan forces out of the country and began mounting operations in the Strip and the Libyan hinterland. The reversal of fortunes led to a ceasefire, mediated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), in September 1987. Talks continued over the next two years, and although the belligerents failed to produce a bilateral solution to the territorial dispute, they did resolve to submit the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at OAU-mediated talks in Algiers.[2]

The ICJ delivered its judgement in February 1994, supporting Chad’s claim on the territory.[3] In the ensuing months, negotiations were held between the governments of Chad and Libya, culminating with a comprehensive agreement on Libyan withdrawal and the establishment of a joint commission to demarcate the border.[4] As the first Libyan personnel were leaving the Strip on 15 April 1994, a UN reconnaissance team arrived to survey conditions on the ground. Two weeks later, the United Nations Aouzou Strip Observer Group (UNASOG) was formally established to monitor and verify the Libyan withdrawal.[5] These tasks were carried out successfully, with the Libyan troops completing their withdrawal and formally handing over control of the Aouzou Strip to Chad at the end of May 1994. Its mandate complete, UNASOG was disbanded a week later.[6] The mediation of the OAU helped to end the conflict, the arbitration of the ICJ provided a permanent solution to the dispute, and UNASOG observers ensured that the transition went ahead peacefully.


[1] UCDP. Chad – Libya. (UCDP, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 01/12/2020)

[2] Framework Agreement on the Peaceful Settlement of the Territorial Dispute between the Republic of Chad and the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, 1989. Available at: (Accessed 07/12/2020)

[3] ICJ. Territorial Dispute (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya/Chad): Overview of the Case. (ICJ, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 07/12/2020)

[4] Agreement between Libya and Chad Concerning the Practical Modalities for the Implementation of the Judgment Delivered by the ICJ on 3 February 1994, 1994. Available at: (Accessed 07/12/2020)

[5] UN Peacekeeping. Aouzou Strip: Background. (UN, 2001) Available at: (Accessed 07/12/2020)

[6] Ibid.