San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica's Chinchilla condemns Nicaragua in U.N. speech over border dispute

During her final address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla lambasted Nicaragua over its repeated “aggression” against her country. 

The president expressed “outrage” at Nicaragua’s recent actions, including the dredging of two new canals in Costa Rican territory, its “flouting” of the International Court of Justice’s precautionary measures, and called for greater vigilance and harsher consequences for noncompliance with the world court’s orders.  

“Costa Rica is a firm believer in international law in all it’s aspects but this attitude contrasts with the absolute disrespect of the government of Nicaragua of those elementary norms and conducts among nations,” Chinchilla said in her address in New York.

“This disrespect has led to open and unacceptable aggressions against our country and to the flagrant disobedience of the orders of the court of The Hague,” she added.

During her address, the president listed several recent aggressions against Costa Rica by its northern neighbor dating back to October 2010, when Nicaragua first “invaded” Isla Portillos and started dredging the uninhabited wetland preserve.

Along with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s words about “reclaiming” the northwestern Costa Rican province of Guanacaste and Nicaragua’s attempt to sell oil concessions in Costa Rican waters this summer, Chinchilla highlighted the Ortega government’s repeated violations of the world court’s precautionary measure for both sides to stay out of the disputed territory while the case pends.

“This scorn demonstrates the urgent need to establish procedures to guarantee the respect of all decisions emanating from the court, including precautionary measures,” Chinchilla said, echoing the frustrations of many Ticos with the lack of consequences for Nicaragua’s alleged violations of court orders.

On Monday, Costa Rica presented a letter to the International Court of Justice at The Hague requesting it take additional measures against Nicaragua. During her press conference Tuesday, Chinchilla mentioned that there were alternative measures available when a country does not follow the court’s rulings, including sanctions.

The president noted that the current system does not provide for any follow-up after the court issues a precautionary measure to gauge compliance or levy consequences for noncompliance.

Costa Rica is not alone in its complaints about Nicaragua’s aggressive push for more territory and a larger military. Panama and Costa Rica co-signed a letter from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Monday addressed to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon regarding the countries’ shared concern over Nicaragua’s “expansionist” policies. 

President Chinchilla has an appointment to meet with the secretary general on Friday, according to Casa Presidencial.

“We feel vulnerable when there is a violation of the precautionary measures imposed by the International Court,” Chinchilla said, reinforcing Costa Rica’s position as an unarmed nation, “Nicaragua should not violate [these] measures with impunity.”

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