Aerial Herbicide Spraying (Ecuador v. Colombia)
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Overview of the case
On 31 March 2008, Ecuador filed an Application instituting proceedings against Colombia in respect of a dispute concerning the alleged “aerial spraying [by Colombia] of toxic herbicides at locations near, at and across its border with Ecuador”. Ecuador maintained that “the spraying has already caused serious damage to people, to crops, to animals, and to the natural environment on the Ecuadorian side of the frontier, and poses a grave risk of further damage over time”. It further contended that it had made “repeated and sustained efforts to negotiate an end to the fumigations” but that “these negotiations have proved unsuccessful”. As basis for the Court’s jurisdiction, Ecuador invoked Article XXXI of the Pact of Bogotá of 30 April 1948, to which both States were parties. Ecuador also relied on Article 32 of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
By an Order of 30 May 2008, the Court fixed 29 April 2009 and 29 March 2010 as the respective time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Ecuador and a Counter-Memorial by Colombia. Those pleadings were filed within the time-limits thus prescribed. By an Order of 25 June 2010, the Court directed the submission of a Reply by Ecuador and a Rejoinder by Colombia. It fixed 31 January 2011 and 1 December 2011, respectively, as the time-limits for the filing of those pleadings. The Reply of Ecuador was filed within the time-limit thus fixed. Further to a request from Colombia asking the Court to extend the time-limit fixed for the filing of the Rejoinder, by an Order of 19 October 2011, the President of the Court, taking into account the views of the Parties, extended the original time-limit to 1 February 2012. The Rejoinder of Colombia was filed within the time-limit thus extended.
By a letter dated 12 September 2013, the Agent of Ecuador, referring to Article 89 of the Rules of Court and to an Agreement between the Parties dated 9 September 2013 “that fully and finally resolves all of Ecuador’s claims against Colombia” in the case, notified the Court that his Government wished to discontinue the proceedings in the case. By a letter of the same date, the Agent of Colombia informed the Court, pursuant to Article 89, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court, that it made no objection to the discontinuance of the case as requested by Ecuador.
According to the letters received from the Parties, the Agreement of 9 September 2013 established, inter alia, an exclusion zone, in which Colombia would not conduct aerial spraying operations, created a Joint Commission to ensure that spraying operations outside that zone had not caused herbicides to drift into Ecuador and, so long as they had not, provided a mechanism for the gradual reduction in the width of the said zone ; according to the letters, the Agreement set out operational parameters for Colombia’s spraying programme, recorded the agreement of the two Governments to ongoing exchanges of information in that regard, and established a dispute settlement mechanism.
In consequence, the President of the Court, on 13 September 2013, made an Order recording the discontinuance by Ecuador of the proceedings and directing the removal of the case from the Court’s List.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.