UN court rules that it can hear Bolivia-Chile case

Chile ruled out bilateral negotiations with Bolivia regarding the territorial conflict between the two neighboring countries Friday after the worldwide Court of Justice assumed jurisdiction over the dispute.


But yesterday the court rejected Chile’s argument, saying that Bolivia’s claim that Chile has an obligation to negotiate “sovereign access” to the Pacific is not dealt with in that treaty.

Bolivia lost access to the Pacific following an 1880s war.

Eduardo Rodriguez, the attorney representing Bolivia’s case before the ICJ, was enthused over Thursday’s ruling and went so far as to call the decision “an initial victory”.

“The matters in the dispute are not matters already settled by arrangements between the parties… or governed by treaties in force”, Presiding Judge Ronny Abraham of France said, reading the 14-2 decision by the global panel of judges in The Hague.

Bolivia’s court claim is based on a series of bilateral talks held between the two nations in the 1970s, when the subject of access to the Pacific was discussed. It only means that the case will continue. But La Paz has not specifically asked the court to rule directly on whether it has a right to access.

In the other hand, the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, said the Bolivia had won nothing, meanwhile his chancellor, Heraldo Munoz, said Bolivia cannot obligated to Chile to give territory. “We will always act with great humility, serenity, but also with great dignity”, said Morales in an interview moments before taking off to New York, where he will take part in the United Nations General Assembly.

The Chilean government slammed the decision on its official Twitter account, referring to a treaty signed by both countries in 1904. “It confuses rights with aspirations, and completely distorts the history between Chile and Bolivia”.


Bolivia asked the global Court of Justice in 2013 to order Chile to negotiate over Bolivia’s claim to at least part of the 240-mile (400-kilometer) strip of the Pacific coast.

Evo Morales described the veredict as historical decission