San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

International Court of Justice rejects new complaints by Costa Rica, Nicaragua over border road

The International Court of Justice, based in The Hague, Netherlands, on Thursday informed Costa Rica and Nicaragua that it has refused to change precautionary measures issued in 2011 in the case of a border dispute between both countries.

The statement was issued after both governments had sought further measures against each other following the world court ruling.

Costa Rica had requested the establishment of more restrictive measures against Nicaragua, based on “the constant invasion of organized groups of Nicaraguan citizens to an area located on the border between the two nations,” referring to a small territory known as Isla Calero, along the Caribbean coast in northeastern Costa Rica.

Nicaragua had called for measures against Costa Rica for alleged environmental damage caused by the construction of a 160-kilometer road parallel to the San Juan River, which serves as a natural border between the two countries. The court rejected Nicaragua’s request.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo said “this new chapter of the dispute does not affect the process, and only tells both countries they must clear the area. […] They [Nicaragua] are not allowed to keep civilians in the area, and only Costa Rica has permission to conduct inspections for environmental protection purposes.”

The court’s decision was issued by a 15-2 vote, and in their conclusions justices highlighted their concern that “the presence of organized groups of Nicaraguan citizens in the disputed area carries the risk that incidents could aggravate the current dispute.”

The world court currently is processing the claims of both countries in a single case of alleged invasion of territory and environmental damage.

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