THE HAGUE – Bolivia’s agent before The Hague-based International Court of Justice said on Tuesday that his legal team had made a strong case that Chile has an obligation to enter into good-faith negotiations on sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean for the landlocked Andean nation.
Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, a former Bolivian president and ex-Supreme Court justice, said La Paz submitted its arguments in five volumes – one containing the body of its reply in the case and four consisting of supporting evidence – ahead of a Tuesday deadline the tribunal, also known as the World Court, had set in September.
His legal team acted “with enormous responsibility and rigor,” Rodriguez told EFE, adding that he could not comment on the content of Bolivia’s reply but that spirits were high on his side.
Chile now has until Sept. 21 to file its rejoinder in the case.
The ICJ agreed to hear the case in September 2015, rejecting Chile’s argument that the character of Bolivia’s access to the Pacific Ocean had been settled by a 1904 treaty.
That treaty was signed more than 20 years after the end of the War of the Pacific, in which Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and wrested territory from its neighbors.
The World Court agreed with Bolivia that it had jurisdiction to hear the case because Chile had an obligation (existing independently of the treaty) to negotiate in good faith Bolivia’s sovereign access to the Pacific under “agreements, diplomatic practice and ... declarations attributable to Chile” spanning more than a century.
Bolivia lost 400 kilometers (250 miles) of coastline and 120,000 sq. kilometers (46,330 sq. miles) of territory to Chile as a consequence of its 1879-1880 participation in that armed conflict.