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The judges of the International Court of Justice ruled today that Nicaragua must remove its troops from the disputed parcel of land on the south side of the Río San Juan, known as the Isla Calero. In a four point ruling issued by the world court in The Hague, The Netherlands, lead judge Hisashi Owada announced that all parties must leave the disputed region, that both nations must refrain from any actions that may further aggravate the conflict, and that the only people permitted access to the area are Costa Rican environmental personnel. The court also ruled that the dredging could result in possible environmental damage.
While the dredging of the Río San Juan was not ordered to be ceased entirely, any further dredging in the disputed area near the Isla Calero was ordered to stop.
“At the present time, the court rules that all parties must refrain from any act that may extend or aggravate the dispute,” Owada said as he read the decision.
The world court said that selected personnel would be granted access to the zone to assess the environmental damage done to the area as recommended by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. After the Ramsar convention ruled in early January that “water quality, aquatic flora and fauna and residential and migratory birds will be most affected,” by the river dredging, Nicaragua scoffed at the finding, claiming that the Ramsar convention was an illegitimate international organization.
“We are very pleased with the court’s ruling to attend to the environmental concerns in the region,” Foreign Minister René Castro said in an interview from The Hague. “This gives proper credit to the international experts of the Ramsar convention and sets an international precedent that other countries that choose not to have a military will have their sovereign rights upheld by international diplomatic bodies.”
According to Nicaragua media, the country applauds the court’s decision, but will continue with the dredging of the Río San Juan. The ruling said the court made clear that Costa Rica did not demonstrate that the dredging of the river caused environmental damage, a Nicaraguan diplomat said. The court ruled that Costa Rica may send civilians to monitor the dredging work to prevent environmental damage.
At an address at 11:30 a.m., President Laura Chinchilla praised the outcome of the world court case.
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