Thursday, 23 May 2013
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rejected an application filed by Nicaragua in relation to its boundary dispute with Costa Rica, declaring the four counter-claims over Isla Calero, the small border territory between the neighbours, as inadmissible. Uniquely, the ICJ has also considered it appropriate to join two separate proceedings between the neighbours, at the request of Nicaragua, as to allow a single set of hearings and the delivery of a single judgement.
In its reasoning for the joinder, the ICJ says that both cases, 'Certain Activities carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area' and 'Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River', concern the same parties, a common border, activities in the San Juan River, the surrounding environmental implications and the same disputed treaty.
These counter-claims were dismissed unanimously by the ICJ on 1 May 2013. The first of these, relating to environmental damage, was declared “without object”. The second and third claims, in which Nicaragua requested greater sovereignty and free navigation rights, were ruled inadmissible. Finally, the fourth claim, alleging that Costa Rica did not implement the provisional measures set out by the ICJ on 8 March 2011, was deemed not necessary to entertain, as it will be further examined in the upcoming proceedings.
The first proceedings were instituted by Costa Rica against Nicaragua in 2010, over the alleged occupation of Costa Rican territory in relation to dredging of the San Juan River by Nicaragua. They argue that this activity violated their territorial rights, as spelled out in the 1858 Cañas-Jerez Treaty and the 1888 Cleveland Award, which awarded ownership of the River to Nicaragua, although commercial navigation rights were afforded to Costa Rica.
The second proceedings were instituted by Nicaragua against Costa Rica in December of the following year, citing “major environmental damages” in its territory resulting from major works, namely the construction of a road on the Costa Rican side of the border. Then, on 6 August 2012, Nicaragua filed four counter-claims in the first case, which were raised objectionably by Costa Rica to the ICJ, as well as Managua's request that the two cases be joined.