Costa Rica requests new measures from world court in dispute with Nicaragua

September 24, 2013

The Costa Rican government requested additional measures from the International Court of Justice at The Hague on Monday following the accusation last week that Nicaragua has been altering the mouth of the San Juan River in the disputed border area known as Isla Portillos.

“Nicaragua’s actions are in a class of their own because they not only represent a violation of the court’s provisional measures stated on March 8, 2011, but also because they violate national territory and seek to reconfigure the mouth of the Río San Juan,” said Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo, according to an official statement.  

Castillo, who accompanied Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla to New York to participate in the United Nations General Assembly, said that Costa Rica “has no other option other than to return to the court to halt these actions [by Nicaragua] as quickly as possible.”

In October 2010, Nicaraguan troops occupied part of Isla Portillos, also known as Isla Calero, as part of an effort to dredge a canal between the San Juan River and the Los Portillos Lagoon, near Costa Rica’s northeastern Caribbean coast. Isla Portillos is a protected wetland under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

In an attempt to remove the Nicaraguan forces, Costa Rica appealed to the world court, and in March 2011, the court issued a decision forbidding civilians, military personnel or police from either country to enter the disputed wetlands.

Costa Rica has repeatedly complained that Nicaragua continues to flaunt the world court’s ruling.

“Costa Rica requests that the Court suspend all dredging or any other work, and specifically the cessation of any kind of work in the additional artificial canals,” according to the petition presented to the court Tuesday morning.

Furthermore, they request that the court allow “Costa Rica to conduct remediation efforts in the disputed territory, in the two new canals and surrounding area, as needed to prevent irreparable [environmental] damage.”

In her speech to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday, Chinchilla will speak about what Costa Rica calls “Nicaragua’s expansionist policy” and will ask for support from the international community to defend the integrity of its territory, according to sources traveling with the president. 

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