ICJ: on a Finish Line
Text: Ann Galustyan
So, today is the fourth session of the ICJ. As it was mentioned in the former article, the honorable judges divided into two groups in order to make the accepting of the resolution easier. Early in the morning the judges started discussing the most important options connected with the case. The majority of them concerned the environment: whether the Nicaraguan activity in the San Juan River damages Colorado River or not. The judges discussed the issue rather calmly. They were whispering so as not to disturb each other.
At first sight, it could be thought that today’s work was less productive, but the judges did need time to rethink all that had been discussed during three previous days. As usual, the honorable judges had different opinions on how a future resolution should look like. In particular, the judges were not unanimous about Nicaragua’s actions. Every of them recognized that Nicaragua had caused the damage to the Costa Rican territory, but, however, the actual extent of the damage could not be estimated by the court procedure. Finally, it was time for the judges to for and against the following statements for Nicaragua:
1. the obligation not to damage the Costa Rican territory
2. the obligation not to prohibit the navigation on the San Juan River by the Costa Rican territories
3. the obligations under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
4. the obligation not to dredge the San Juan River if this causes damage to the Costa Rican territory (including the Colorado River) in accordance with the 1888 Cleveland Award
5. the obligations not to aggravate and extend the dispute by adopting measures against Costa Rica, including the expansion of the invaded and occupied Costa Rican territory or by adopting any further or carrying out any further actions that would infringe Costa Rica`s territorial integrity etc.
Afterwards madam President summarized all the results of the ICJ’s work during this week and read out the most important parts of the court`s judgment. Here we also remind you the key points.
During the oral proceedings both parties claimed that no actual measurements of the boundary line had been taken. The advocate of Nicaragua denied the presence of the Nicaraguan army in the disputed area, but affirmed the presence of the police forces in order to struggle against illegal activities. At the same time, the advocate of Costa Rica explained her position on the basis of international law. As madam President mentioned, it concerned mainly the damage to the environment, which had been caused by Nicaraguan activity : flooding, deforestation, extinction of species, etc. With reference to all these facts, Costa Rica insisted on the immediate withdrawal of the Nicaraguan forces from Costa Rican territory.
Now the ICJ is on the threshold of the final judgment and tomorrow you`ll read how this document will look like.