San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica argues case against Nicaragua in The Hague on Tuesday

Costa Rica’s legal team arrives at the International Court of Justice at The Hague on Sunday.

During a pre-trip press conference on Friday, Foreign Minister René Castro did not share details about Costa Rica’s strategy. In general, the Costa Rican team is expected to argue that the Nicaraguan military occupation of Isla Calero is a violation of Costa Rica’s sovereignty.

When news of the presence of Nicaraguan soldiers on Isla Calero first surfaced in October, Costa Rica appealed to the Organization of the American States. Despite 22 of the 24 representatives voting that Nicaragua should remove its troops, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega rebuffed the organization and has maintained troops in the area.  Nicaragua claims the territory as its own. 

Ortega said, “[The OAS] is an institution that loses credibility every day, if it even has any credibility left. …We will stay [on Isla Calero] due to the manipulated, rigged and lying vote of the OAS” (TT, Dec. 24).

In mid-November, Costa Rica filed a complaint to the world court, saying it was the “last available diplomatic solution”,  according to Antonio Barrios, an international relations professor at Costa Rica’s National University (TT, Dec. 17).

Asked whether Nicaragua would comply with a ruling in Costa Rica’s favor, Castro was optimistic, saying that the repercussions for noncompliance would be international isolation.

The presentation of arguments is expected to last through Thursday, with both Costa Rica and Nicaragua having equal time before the court’s 15 judges.

Though most world court cases take several years to reach a resolution, Castro is hoping judges will issue an injunction against Nicaragua in a matter of weeks.

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