Costa Rica institutes proceedings against Nicaragua 20 Nov 2010
Costa Rica has instituted proceedings before the ICJ against Nicaragua claiming violations of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On 18 November 2010, the Republic of Costa Rica instituted proceedings against the Republic of Nicaragua before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in the so-called 'Isla Calero dispute'. The proceedings concern an alleged “incursion into, occupation of and use by Nicaragua’s Army of Costa Rican territory as well as breaches of Nicaragua’s obligations towards Costa Rica” under a number of international treaties and conventions.

According to its Application, Costa Rica claims that

“[b]y sending contingents of its armed forces to Costa Rican territory and establishing military camps therein, Nicaragua is not only acting in outright breach of the established boundary regime between the two states, but also of the core founding principles of the United Nations, namely the principle of territorial integrity and the prohibition of the threat or use of force against any State in accordance with article 2 (4) of the Charter”

Costa Rica alleges that Nicaragua has on two separate occasions occupied its territory, through the construction of a canal across Costa Rican territory from the San Juan River to Laguna los Portillos (also known as Harbor Head Lagoon), and certain dredging works on the aforementioned River. Costa Rica claims that both the construction and the dredging works will affect the flow of water within its territory and damage its wetland and wildlife areas.

On 12 November 2010, the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States called for the withdrawal of Nicaraguan forces from the border with Costa Rica.

Extreme hostility and tension

On the basis of its allegations, Costa Rica has requested the ICJ to declare Nicaragua in breach of its international obligations, inter alia, its obligations under the 1858 Treaty of Limits and the fundamental principles of territorial integrity and the prohibition of use of force under the Charter of the United Nations. Costa Rica has requested that the ICJ determine reparations to be made by Nicaragua.

Pending its decision on the merits of its Application, Costa Rica has also filed a Request for the indication of provisional measures. In addition to the situation described, it contends that the presence of the Nicaraguan armed forces on Costa Rican territory is “contributing to a political situation of extreme hostility and tension” with the threat of armed force overshadowing proceedings before the Court. It has called for provisional measures including the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Nicaraguan troops and the immediate cessation of construction works on Costa Rican territory.

On 13 July 2009, the ICJ delivered its Judgment in a similar case concerning the two countries regarding a dispute over navigational rights on the San Juan River.

ICJ Press Release

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