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


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.

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