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Montevideo, December 9th 2018 - 19:39 UTC

Chile cannot be forced to negotiate a Bolivian sovereign access to the Pacific, says UN court

Tuesday, October 2nd 2018 - 07:48 UTC
Full article 32 comments
President Morales attended the court session and told reporters outside the Peace Palace in The Hague, he would keep fighting for sea access. President Morales attended the court session and told reporters outside the Peace Palace in The Hague, he would keep fighting for sea access.
Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera, celebrated in Santiago and told reporters that while Chile was always open to dialogue with its neighbors Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera, celebrated in Santiago and told reporters that while Chile was always open to dialogue with its neighbors
Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf said that despite a long history of talks, Chile had never bound itself to negotiations that would lead to a surrender of territory for Bolivia Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf said that despite a long history of talks, Chile had never bound itself to negotiations that would lead to a surrender of territory for Bolivia

Landlocked Bolivia cannot force Chile to negotiate over granting it “sovereign access” to the Pacific Ocean, judges at the International Court of Justice ruled on Monday in a setback to Bolivian President Evo Morales. Bolivia surrendered most of its former coastline to Chile in a 1904 treaty following the War of the Pacific.

 The Andean neighbors have held occasional talks about a possible corridor to the sea for Bolivia ever since, but judges said that did not create any obligation for Chile to actually negotiate one.

Morales attended the court session and told reporters outside the Peace Palace in The Hague, where the court is based, he would keep fighting for sea access.

Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera, celebrated with colleagues in the capital Santiago and told reporters that while Chile was always open to dialogue with its neighbors, Morales had created “false expectations” among his countrymen.

Reading the panel’s 12-3 decision, Presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf said that despite the countries’ long history of talks, Chile had never bound itself to negotiations that would lead to a surrender of territory, as Bolivia had argued.

Accordingly “the court is unable to conclude ... that Chile has the obligation to negotiate with Bolivia in order to reach an agreement granting Bolivia full sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.”

Morales listened attentively during the ruling, taking notes as judges rejected all eight grounds advanced by Bolivian lawyers to support their claim. The ruling is a blow to the Bolivian president, who has bolstered his popularity with the nationalistic bid for sea access ahead of a bid for a controversial fourth term next year.

Speaking outside the court afterwards, he highlighted the court’s suggestion that the countries continue negotiations out of “good neighborliness.” “Bolivia will never allow itself to be kept from the sea,” he said. “The Bolivian people and the people of the world know that through an invasion, sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean has been taken away.”

Chile’s President Piñera did not rule out further discussion, but said Morales’ application to the ICJ had meant the two nations had lost “five years in healthy and necessary relations”.

“The demand by Bolivia’s government had no foundation, neither historical, political nor legal, and that is why it was categorically rejected,” he said.

Chile currently allows Bolivia duty-free access to the port of Arica, near its northern border with Peru. Bolivia aspires to have a corridor including a train line and port under its own control, and Morales in 2012 halted discussions he saw as fruitless in favor of seeking a legal ruling to bolster his case.

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, is the United Nations’ venue for resolving disputes between nations.

Categories: Politics, Latin America, Chile.

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  • Chicureo

    Chile has been in numerous discussions regarding our border with Bolivia for years and they have complete free access to the Pacific with a railway our country built for them. Peru has given them an actual coastal site, which remains unused.
    Right or wrong, Chile won a territorial war that resulted in the humiliation of Peru and Bolivia and they still resent it. Morales is a disaster for his country.

    As far as our military vs. theirs, we would easily devastate them although I have very high respect for the Peruvian navy and their officer corps. Their airforce and army are weak, poorly equipped and ill trained.

    Regarding Brazil... They hopefully will abandon the PT and embrace Bolsonaro.

    The fight over judge Kavanaugh is about the US Supreme Court becoming conservative. It's purely political.

    Oct 02nd, 2018 - 10:42 pm +2
  • golfcronie

    Why doesn't Argentina bring the dispute of sovereinty ( regarding the FALKLANDS ) to the ICJ, we all know why don't we?

    Oct 02nd, 2018 - 04:28 pm +1
  • Chicureo

    Yes, but we Chileans maintain a substantial military to reinforce our resolve our border. As we declare on our escudo: “Por la razón o la fuerza”
    Our has our British friends say: “go and pound sand...”

    Oct 02nd, 2018 - 06:56 pm +1
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