Ligitan (Malay: Pulau Ligitan) is a small island in Tawau, Sabah, located east of the island of Borneo, in the Celebes Sea. In the past, the island was at the centre of a territorial dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia. The matter was brought for adjudication before the International Court of Justice and, at the end of 2002, the Court awarded the island along with the island of Sipadan to Malaysia, on the basis of the "effective occupation" displayed by the latter's predecessor (Malaysia's former colonial power, Great Britain) and the absence of any other superior title. The Philippines had applied to intervene in the proceedings on the basis of its claim to Northern Borneo, but its request was turned down by the Court early in 2001.
Location of Ligitan Island in Darvel Bay of Celebes Sea
As a result of Filipino militant intrusion in 2000, the island management together with Sipadan was put under the Malaysian National Security Council (NSC). On 8 July 2019, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has agreed in principle to return the management of both islands from the NSC back to the Sabah government under Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry with the takeover will be done once the federal Cabinet approving the request.
- "The Court finds that sovereignty over the islands of Ligitan and Sipadan belongs to Malaysia". International Court of Justice. 17 December 2002. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
- Durie Rainer Fong (8 July 2019). "Sabah govt to take charge of Sipadan Island". Free Malaysia Today. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
- "Sipadan, Ligitan to come under Sabah in consensus by MA63 committee". Free Malaysia Today. 19 August 2019. Archived from the original on 22 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
- Judgement of the ICJ of 17 December 2002 (Merits)
- Fabio Spadi (2003) "Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan: New Parameters for the Concept of Dependency in the Maritime Environment? The ICJ Judgment of 17 December 2002", The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 18: 295-310