The United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Bolivia’s request to order neighboring Chile to negotiate access to the sea for the Andean nation on Monday, 1st October (The Guardian).
Judges voted 12 to 3 that Chile is not legally obliged to start talks with Bolivia, court President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said. The dispute dates from the ‘War of the Pacific’ in 1879, in which Chile seized territory from both Bolivia and Peru.
“The ruling is an historic triumph for Chile and international law,” Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera said after the decision was announced. “The Bolivian president [Evo Morales] has generated false expectations among his own people, and great frustration.”
Morales — who was sitting in the front row of the court as the decision was read out — had made access to the sea a rallying cry during his 12 years in power. Back at home, people waved blue flags that symbolize the country’s demand for access to the ocean, as they watched the ruling on giant screens in squares and public areas. They quickly drifted away once the decision was read out.
The Peruvian and Bolivian soil — seized by Chile in the 19th century South American war — surely increased the country’s copper production to become the largest in the world, and helped it become the wealthiest nation in the continent. It also left Bolivia — now the region’s poorest — landlocked between the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest (Bloomberg).
“Bolivia will never surrender to being landlocked,” Morales told Bolivian newspaper El Deber at the court. “We are in favor of justice, we are right and that’s why I want to highlight the ICJ’s invitation for dialogue to continue.”
In Santiago, Piñera told supporters at La Moneda presidential palace that Chile will always be open to cooperate and talk within the framework of international treaties.
“Chile has never had any obligation, and it still doesn’t have it today, to negotiate our sea, our land or our sovereignty,” said Piñera according to local news portal Emol.