ICJ Finds in Favor of Costa Rica

ICJ Finds in Favor of Costa Rica

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, delivered its Order on the request for the indication of new provisional measures submitted by Costa Rica on 24 September 2013 in the case concerning Certain Activities carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area, with which has been joined the case concerning Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River.

This request was prompted by the construction by Nicaragua of two new artificial channels (or caños) in the “disputed territory”. That territory was defined by the Court, in its Order of 8 March 2011 indicating provisional measures, as “the northern part of Isla Portillos, that is to say, the area of wetland of some three square kilometres between the right bank of the disputed caño [of 2011], the right bank of the San Juan river up to its mouth at the Caribbean Sea and the Harbor Head lagoon”.

Two days ago, after reaffirming, unanimously, the provisional measures indicated in its Order of 8 March 2011, the Court indicated the following provisional measures:

– it decided, unanimously, that Nicaragua should refrain from any dredging and other activities in the disputed territory, and should, in particular, refrain from work of any kind on the two new caños;

– it also decided, unanimously, notwithstanding the provisions of the previous point and paragraph 86 (1) of the Order of 8 March 2011, that Nicaragua should fill the trench on the beach north of the eastern caño within two weeks from the date of the present Order, immediately inform the Court of the completion of the filling of the trench and, within one week from the said completion, submit to it a report containing all necessary details, including photographic evidence;

– it further found, unanimously, that, except as needed for implementing the obligation under the previous point, Nicaragua should (i) cause the removal from the disputed territory of any personnel, whether civilian, police or security and (ii) prevent any such personnel from entering the disputed territory;

– it also found, unanimously, that Nicaragua should cause the removal from and prevent the entrance into the disputed territory of any private persons under its jurisdiction or control;

– it also held, by fifteen votes to one, that, following consultation with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention and after giving Nicaragua prior notice, Costa Rica might take appropriate measures related to the two new caños, to the extent necessary to prevent irreparable prejudice to the environment of the disputed territory and that, in taking these measures, Costa Rica should avoid any adverse effects on the San Juan River; and

– lastly, the Court decided, unanimously, that the Parties should regularly inform it, at three-month intervals, as to the compliance with the above provisional measures.

More info


Press Release, November 25, 2013