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Press release annoucing that Bolivia has instituted proceedings against Chile
to negotiate a sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean

Press Release

No. 2013/11
24 April 2013

Bolivia institutes proceedings against Chile with regard to a dispute concerning the obligation of Chile to negotiate the "sovereign access of Bolivia to the Pacific Ocean"

THE HAGUE, 24 April 2013. Today, the Plurinational State of Bolivia instituted proceedings against the Republic of Chile before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, concerning a dispute in relation to "Chile's obligation to negotiate in good faith and effectively with Bolivia in order to reach an agreement granting Bolivia a fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean".

The Application contains a summary of the facts -- starting from the independence of Bolivia in 1825 and continuing until the present day -- which, according to Bolivia, are "the main relevant facts on which this claim is based", and which must be provided in any Application under Article 38, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court.

In its Application, Bolivia states that the subject of the dispute lies in "(a) the existence of that obligation, (b) the non-compliance of that obligation by Chile and (c) Chile's duty to comply with the said obligation".

Bolivia asserts inter alia that "beyond its general obligations under international law, Chile has committed itself, more specifically through agreements, diplomatic practice and a series of declarations attributable to its highest-level representatives, to negotiate a sovereign access to the sea for Bolivia". According to Bolivia, "Chile has not complied with this obligation and . . . denies the existence of its obligation".

Bolivia accordingly "requests the Court to adjudge and declare that:

    (a) Chile has the obligation to negotiate with Bolivia in order to reach an agreement granting Bolivia a fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean;

    (b) Chile has breached the said obligation;

    (c) Chile must perform the said obligation in good faith, promptly, formally, within a reasonable time and effectively, to grant Bolivia a fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean".

As the basis for the jurisdiction of the Court, the Applicant invokes Article XXXI of the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement (Pact of Bogota) of 30 April 1948, to which both States are parties. This Article provides that: "In conformity with Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, the High Contracting Parties declare that they recognize, in relation to any other American State, the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory ipso facto, without the necessity of any special agreement so long as the present Treaty is in force, in all disputes of a judicial nature that arise among them concerning:

    (a) the interpretation of a treaty;

    (b) any question of international law;

    (c) the existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute the breach of an international obligation;

    (d) the nature or extent of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation."

At the end of its Application, Bolivia "reserves [its] right to request that an arbitral tribunal be established in accordance with the obligation under Article XII of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship concluded with Chile on 20 October 1904 and the Protocol of 16 April 1907, in the case of any claims arising out of the said Treaty".

[Source: International Court of Justice, The Hague, 24Apr13]

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