World Court rejects Nicaragua’s counterclaims

ICJ rejects Nicaragua's effort to gain navigation rights to Costa Rica's Rio Colorado

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague has unanimously shot down four counterclaims filed by Nicaragua in the recently joined court cases over the border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

In a press release published May 1, the ICJ verified what the Costa Rican government reported prematurely last week: that the World Court has shot down all four of Nicaragua’s counterclaims.

Costa Rica’s Rio Colorado is a popular sportfishing spot in Costa Rica. Nicaragua sought to have free navigation rights to the river, which takes 90% of its water from the Rio San Juan (photo/ Ronald Reyes/ Tico Times)

The first counterclaim dealt with Nicaragua’s protest over Costa Rica’s construction of a riverside highway paralleling the Río San Juan. Nicaragua requested the Court declare that “Costa Rica bears responsibility to Nicaragua” for the impairment of navigation on the San Juan River and for the damage to the environment caused by the construction of a road next to its right bank by Costa Rica in violation of its obligations stemming from the 1858 Treaty of Limits and various treaty or customary rules relating to the protection of the environment and good neighborliness, according to the ICJ release.

Nicaragua’s second rejected counterclaim asked the Court to declare that it “has become the sole sovereign over the area formerly occupied by the Bay of San Juan del Norte.”

It’s third counterclaim requested the Court to find that “Nicaragua has a right to free navigation on the Colorado Branch of the San Juan de Nicaragua River until the conditions of navigability existing at the time the 1858 Treaty was concluded are reestablished”.

The Court unanimously rejected the second and third counterclaims because they were deemed “inadmissible as such and do not form part of the current proceedings, since there is no direct connection, either in fact or in law, between those claims and the principal claims of Costa Rica.”

Nicaragua’s fourth counterclaim alleged that Costa Rica did not implement the provisional measures ordered by the Court in April 2011. The four provisional measures were: (1) The Court requested the Parties to refrain from sending to, or maintaining in the disputed territory any personnel, whether civilian, police or security; (2) authorized Costa Rica to dispatch civilian personnel charged with the protection of the environment to the said territory, but only in so far as it is necessary to avoid irreparable prejudice being caused; (3) called on the Parties to refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute; and (4) asked each of the Parties to inform it as to its compliance with the said provisional measures.

Nicaragua argued that Costa Rica violated those provisional measures by building its border highway along the Río San Juan, and Costa Rica claims Nicaragua has violated the Court order by using Sandinista Youth to occupy Harbour Head.

The case before the ICJ will now enter the oral argument phase.

  • Ken

    This isn’t looking good for Nicaragua. I thought the first and the fourth counterclaims had some merit.

  • amordeliteraturadeNicaragua

    This is another way the U.S. can deny Nicaragua to equal and fair access to the economic growth of other pro-U.S. friends. Why does Costa Rica need an army? There are probably hundreds of U.S. soldiers already in Costa Rica (there, but not there), and as Intel moves another 25% of its worldwide operations to Costa Rica, They will become the U.S. of Central America..