SAN JOSÉ – Central American Presidents and representatives from international courts from around the world will descend on Managua during the first week in October for a Central American integration summit organized by the European Union.
Ricardo Acevedo, president of the Central American Court of Justice, announced the historic event at a conference on regional integration held in Costa Rica’s capital Aug. 17.
The European Union and the countries of Central America are laying the groundwork to begin negotiations for an Association Agreement, which will include a free-trade agreement and increased political cooperation between the two regions.
Both sides have decided to wait until Costa Rica votes on the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) in October before starting negotiations (TT, July 13).
“For the European Union to invest in the region, there needs to be a single, integrated rule of law,” Acevedo told The Tico Times, adding that the Oct. 3-5 summit will focus on integration of the legal systems of Central American countries.
Though Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador are members of the Central American Court, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala haven’t ratified their membership, which means they don’t recognize the court’s jurisdiction.
Acevedo said Costa Rica should become a member of the court not only to show the international community it wants to integrate with the rest of Central America, but so Costa Ricans can be represented by Costa Rican judges when they defend themselves in the regional court, which has ruled on a range of regional issues.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias has been standoffish about Central American integration. Costa Rica has refused membership in the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) and Arias has called for a revision of the Central American Integration System (SICA), which seeks uniform Customs rules across the region.
Invitees to the event include representatives of the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as well as courts from regional Latin American commercial communities such as the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Andean Community. The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a representative of the United Nations have also been invited.