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Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras)

Overview of the case

On the same day, 28 July 1986, Nicaragua instituted proceedings against Costa Rica and Honduras, respectively, alleging various violations of international law for which the two States bore legal responsibility, particularly on account of certain military activities directed against the Nicaraguan authorities by the contras operating from their territory.

In the former case, Nicaragua proceeded to file its Memorial on the merits on 10 August 1987. Subsequently, by a communication dated 12 August 1987, Nicaragua, referring to an agreement signed on 7 August 1987 at Guatemala City by the Presidents of the five States of Central America (the “Esquipulas II” Agreement), declared that it was discontinuing the judicial proceedings instituted against Costa Rica. Costa Rica did not object to the discontinuance, and the case was removed from the General List by an Order of the President dated 19 August 1987.

In the latter case, Honduras informed the Court that in its view the Court had no jurisdiction to deal with the case and, after a meeting with the President, the Parties agreed that the questions of jurisdiction and admissibility would be dealt with at a preliminary stage of the proceedings. Once the Parties had filed their written pleadings and taken part in hearings devoted to those questions, the Court delivered its Judgment in the case on 20 December 1988. Nicaragua had relied, as the basis of the jurisdiction of the Court, both on Article XXXI of the Inter- American Treaty for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes (known as the “Pact of Bogotá”) of 1948 and on the declarations of acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court made by the Parties under Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute. The Court found that the Pact of Bogotá conferred jurisdiction upon it. It dismissed the two arguments asserted successively by Honduras in that regard, namely that Article XXXI of the Pact had to be supplemented by a declaration of acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction or that it could be so supplemented but need not be. The Court found that the first argument was incompatible with the actual terms of Article XXXI. With regard to the second argument, the Court had to consider the divergent interpretations of Article XXXI that were proposed by the Parties, and set aside the interpretation of Honduras according to which, inter alia, effect should be given to the reservations to Honduras’s acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Court that had been introduced into its declaration of 1986. On that point, the Court found that the commitment in Article XXXI of the Pact was independent of the declarations of acceptance of its jurisdiction.

The Court moreover rejected the four objections raised by Honduras to the admissibility of the Application, of which two had a general character and two were derived from the Pact of Bogotá. Subsequently, and after the proceedings on the merits had been initiated and Nicaragua had filed its Memorial, and after the Court, at the request of the Parties, had postponed the date for the fixing of the time-limit for the presentation of the Counter-Memorial of Honduras, the Agent of Nicaragua, in May 1992, informed the Court that the Parties had reached an out-of-court agreement and did not wish to go on with the proceedings. On 27 May 1992, the Court made an Order recording the discontinuance of the proceedings and directing the removal of the case from the General List.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Written proceedings

Memorial of Honduras (Jurisdiction and Admissibility)

23 February 1987
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
English

Counter-memorial of Nicaragua (Jurisdiction and Admissibility)

22 June 1987
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
English

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 1988

Oral Arguments on the Jurisdiction of the Court and Admissibility of the Application - Minutes of the Public Sittings held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, from 6 to 15 June and on 20 December 1988, President Ruda presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language

Other documents

Orders

Order of 22 October 1986

Fixing of time-limit: Memorial and Counter-Memorial (Jurisdiction and Admissibility)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 31 March 1988

Withdrawal of Request for the indication of Provisional Measures
Procedure(s): Provisional measures
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 21 April 1989

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial (Merits)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 31 August 1989

Extension of time-limit: Memorial (Merits)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 14 December 1989

Extension of time-limit: Counter-Memorial (Merits)
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 27 May 1992

Removal from list
Procedure(s): Discontinuance
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 1988/2

Summary of the Judgment of 20 December 1988
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 1986/10

29 July 1986
Two new cases are brought to the Court: Nicaragua institutes proceedings against Costa Rica and against Honduras
Available in:
English French

Press release 1986/11

3 September 1986
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Costa Rica appoints an Agent
Available in:
English French

Press release 1986/14

24 October 1986
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Jurisdiction and Admissibility - Fixing of the time-limits for the filing of written pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1987/4

24 February 1987
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Jurisdiction and admissibility - Filing of the Memorial of Honduras
Available in:
English French

Press release 1987/16

26 June 1987
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Jurisdiction and Admissibility - Filing of the Counter-Memorial of Honduras
Available in:
English French

Press release 1987/20

14 August 1987
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Parties request postponement of the opening of oral proceedings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1988/6

22 March 1988
Nicaragua requests provisional measures in its case against Honduras
Available in:
English French

Press release 1988/9

31 March 1988
Nicaragua withdraws request for provisional measures in its case against Honduras
Available in:
English French

Press release 1988/13

4 May 1988
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Hearing to open on Monday 6 June 1988
Available in:
English French

Press release 1988/25

20 December 1988
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Judgment of the Court
Available in:
English French

Press release 1989/19

6 September 1989
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Extension of time-limit for Memorial
Available in:
English French

Press release 1989/26

15 December 1989
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Postponement of fixing of time-limit for Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French

Press release 1992/11

27 May 1992
Border and Transborder Armed Actions (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Removal of the case from the Court's list
Available in:
English French

Correspondence

Correspondence

28 July 1986
Correspondence
Available in:
English French