September 28, 2015

The ICJ Decision on Whether it has Jurisdiction to Attend Bolivia's Request

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On September 11, I asked whether November 24th, the day the ICJ was to issue its first decision on the case brought to court by Bolivia against Chile, was going to be a decisive or fateful day for Bolivia. It turned out to be, against the expectations, the first decision among many.

The court said it rejected Chile's contention about the case not being in the court's jurisdiction. The judges cited the Pact of Bogota (signed in 1948) as giving them jurisdiction.The consequence was, the court also judged in favor of Bolivia to accept the Application filed by the Plurinational State on 24 April 2013. Both decisions were passed by 14 to 2 votes.

It is a first decision because this decision was, to start of, to determine whether the court had authority to accept such a case and to decide whether the case filed by Bolivia was going to be accepted. This was requested by Chile.

This first decision seems to have been an obvious one because, what international court with aspirations to really become an international organ of justice was going to reject such a case? Was it not?

The second decision was a bit more tricky: it seems Bolivia formulated a convincing argument.

If you followed the case, you surely did not miss the resources, efforts and planning that the Bolivian government applied to bring this application to the ICJ. I mean, in the formulation of the application, the government was making use of the full experience of its justice system, but in addition, the efforts were supported by a team of lawyers, historians, political scientists and other professionals from Bolivia and outside. Adding to that was the council of international experts and international lawyers. In addition, the Bolivian government armed a significant international campaign to bring its message to every possible place in the world. The government created an agency (Diremar) dedicated to do this through every conceivable medium, including the effective media in the Internet.

September 11, 2015

September 24: A Decisive or a Fateful Moment for Bolivia?

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Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 15 hours (The Hague time) can turn into a fateful moment or remain a first decisive moment for Bolivia. On that day and that hour, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will "deliver its Judgment on the preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Court raised by the Republic of Chile in the case concerning the Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)" [PDF file].

It could be a fateful moment because the finding could severely undermine the efforts Bolivia has been making to, from their perspective, rectify a historic wrong. For it is sure that if the decision is against Bolivian interests, the country will continue to make efforts to bring Chile to a negotiation table. Only, that, if such is the case, those negotiations will not take place on Bolivian terms but rather on Chile's terms. In order for those negotiations to take place on Bolivian terms, a favorable judgement by the ICJ is imperative.

However, it could also be a first decisive moment, if the judgement is favorable to the Bolivian cause. That being the case, it is pretty much for sure Bolivia will continue the process. The difference would be that the country would have gained international recognition and, yes, some significant support for its cause. Of course, that does not mean Chile will capitulate. On the contrary, the issue is more than likely to continue in other instances.

So let's wait until the judgement is delivered and then we can keep speculating how will this process go on.