Sides will debate Chile’s challenge to international court’s legitimacy in sea access decision in May
Published by Anadolu Agency Feb 17
Bolivia and Chile’s maritime dispute have crawled closer to resolution as the International Court of Justice announced dates to hear a challenge to the tribunal’s authority.
The landlocked country and Pacific neighbor will present arguments at The Hague between May 4-8 following Chile’s contest of the court’s legitimacy to decide the sovereignty row last July.
“The hearings will concern solely the preliminary objection to jurisdiction raised by Chile,” according to an ICJ statement on Monday.
Bolivia filed its demand for “sovereign access to the sea” in April 2013.
It calls not for a redrawing of borders, but that Chile “negotiate in good faith” access to coastline lost in a 19th century war.
Chile rejects Bolivia’s demand and considers the issue settled after leaders relinquished 250 miles (400 km) of coastline and 46,000 square miles (120,000 square km) of territory in a 1904 peace treaty following the 1879-84 War of the Pacific.
Bolivia argues it was pressured into signing the treaty, and cites terms agreed later in 1948 in the Pact of Bogota in the ruling.
The southern Andean nation stalled Bolivia’s demand in challenging the ICJ’s legitimacy in July 2014. Two rounds make up the hearing, with Chile scheduled to speak first on May 4.
For Bolivia’s Attorney General Hector Arce, his country’s first round on May 6 was key.
“This day is the most important because Bolivia will respond to the incorrect objection presented by Chile and will strengthen and defend the jurisdiction of the highest court,” Arce said in comments published by La Paz daily, La Razon.
The outcome of Chile’s challenge was uncertain, Jeannette Irigoin, an international law expert told CNN.
Though as legal challenges grind through court, a swift resolution in either country’s favor looks far off.
A rift in bilateral tensions has deepened in recent months, with Bolivia and Chile exchanging diplomatic blows, while the so-called “maritime cause” figured heavily in President Evo Morales’ re-election campaign in October 2014
(Photo: Former Bolivia president Carlos Mesa and leader of the ‘maritime cause’ speaks with a history book in view)