San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Foreign Minister Assures San Juan River Case Ready

Outgoing Minister of Foreign Relations Roberto Tovar has assured the country that Costa Rica is ready to submit its arguments before the International Court of Justice, seated in The Hague, the Netherlands, in the San Juan River dispute with Nicaragua.

The San Juan River separates Costa Rica from Nicaragua along the eastern half of the border and is Nicaraguan territory, though Costa Rica has navigational rights to the river. The dispute centers on differing interpretations of what those navigational rights entail, based on treaties signed by both sides in the late 1800s (TT, Nov. 11, 2005).

Costa Rica turned to the International Court of Justice in The Hague Sept. 28, 2005, after the two countries failed to come to an agreement following years of negotiations (TT, Sept. 30, 2005).

Tovar last week explained that Costa Rica’s arguments, which must be submitted in written form, are ready, but Costa Rica will wait until its Aug. 29 deadline to turn them in, time which will be spent fine tuning the case. He delined to comment on the details.

Nicaragua has another nine months after Costa Rica submits its case to respond. Costa Rica has a chance to reply, and then oral hearings on the matter will begin.

Sergio Ugalde, the coordinator of the Foreign Ministry’s foreign law committee, told The Tico Times he believes the case would be resolved in approximately four years.

Tovar also announced that he expects the total cost of the proceedings for Costa Rica to be between $1.3-1.4 million, significantly less than the figures of $15-20 million originally announced.


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