Costa Rica Takes Dispute With Nicaragua to the Hague

November 19, 2010

The government of Costa Rica has filed a formal complaint before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, alleging that Nicaragua has violated its sovereignty and destroyed parts of a protected wetland.

The filing is part of a one-month old border dispute between the two Central American countries.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister René Castro said Thursday that it appears Nicaraguan officials are attempting to build a canal between the Río San Juan, which divides the two countries, and a nearby lagoon (TT, Nov. 19). The area was protected in 1996 by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

This is the second time in less than two years that the ICJ has been called upon to settle a dispute concerning the Río San Juan. In July 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rica was granted navigational rights to the Nicaragua-owned river (TT July 13, 2009).

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) met again this week in Washington D.C. to address the border row. Earlier this month, 22 of the 27 OAS representatives voted to request that Nicaragua remove troops from the area, but Nicaragua has not responded. OAS foreign ministers are scheduled to meet again on Dec. 7.

Nicaragua’s ambassador to the OAS, Denis Moncada, did not attend this week’s meeting. Last week, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega called the OAS a “failure,” and said Nicaraguan troops would remain in the disputed area indefinitely.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza urged the two countries to find a peaceful resolution through dialogue.

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