Certain Activities carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua)
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Proceedings joined with Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica) on 17 April 2013
Overview of the case
On 18 November 2010, Costa Rica instituted proceedings against Nicaragua in respect of an alleged “incursion into, occupation of and use by Nicaragua’s army of Costa Rican territory as well as [alleged] breaches of Nicaragua’s obligations towards Costa Rica” under a number of international treaties and conventions. Costa Rica contended that Nicaragua had, in two separate incidents, occupied the territory of Costa Rica in connection with the construction of a canal (caño, the Spanish designation adopted by both Parties) across Costa Rican territory from the San Juan River to Laguna los Portillos (or “Harbor Head Lagoon”), and carried out certain related works of dredging on the San Juan River.
The Application was accompanied by a request for the indication of provisional measures, on which the Court ruled by an Order of 8 March 2011. The Court subsequently decided, by an Order of 17 April 2013, that it was appropriate, in conformity with the principle of the sound administration of justice and with the need for judicial economy, to join the proceedings in the present case with those in the case concerning Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica). It then ruled on the counterclaims submitted by Nicaragua in its Counter-Memorial, and on a request by Costa Rica for the modification of the Order of 8 March 2011.
In September 2013, Costa Rica submitted to the Court a request for the indication of new provisional measures. In an Order of 22 November 2013, the Court reaffirmed the measures prescribed in its Order of 8 March 2011 and indicated new provisional measures addressed to both Parties.
The Court delivered its Judgment on the merits on 16 December 2015. After establishing that it had jurisdiction over the case, the Court found that Costa Rica had sovereignty over the disputed territory lying in the northern part of Isla Portillos. It therefore considered that the activities carried out by Nicaragua in the disputed territory since 2010, including the excavation of three caños and establishment of a military presence in parts of that territory, were in breach of Costa Rica’s territorial sovereignty, and that Nicaragua consequently incurred the obligation to make reparation for the damage caused by its unlawful activities on Costa Rican territory. In its Judgment, the Court ruled that Nicaragua has the obligation to compensate Costa Rica for the material damages caused by its unlawful activities; failing an agreement on the matter between the Parties within 12 months, the Court would settle this issue in a subsequent procedure.
Following a letter dated 16 January 2017 by which Costa Rica requested the Court “to settle the question of the compensation due to Costa Rica for damages caused by Nicaragua’s unlawful activities”, the Court delivered its Judgment on the question on 2 February 2018. In its Judgment, the Court was of the view that damage to the environment, and the consequent impairment or loss of the ability of the environment to provide goods and services, is compensable under international law. In determining the compensation due for environmental damage, the Court assessed the value to be assigned to the restoration of the damaged environment as well as to the impairment or loss of environmental goods and services prior to recovery. It followed from the Court’s analysis of the compensable costs and expenses that the total amount of compensation awarded to Costa Rica was US$378,890.59 to be paid by Nicaragua by 2 April 2018. This amount includes the principal sum of US$358,740.55 and pre-judgment interest on the compensable costs and expenses in the amount of US$20,150.04.
By a letter dated 22 March 2018, Nicaragua informed the Registry of the Court that, on 8 March 2018, it had transferred to Costa Rica the total amount of compensation awarded to the latter.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.