No obligation on part of Chile  to negotiate on the matter of sovereign access of Bolivia to Pacific Ocean

International Court of Justice: The application was filed by Bolivia against Chile in ICJ to receive a fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. Facts of the case were that Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia filed an application in the registry of the Court to initiate proceedings against Chile. The dispute between the states was related to Chile’s obligation to negotiate in good faith and effectively with Bolivia/Applicant State so as Bolivia receives a fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.  Applicant approached court under Article XXXI of the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement also known as Pact of Bogota.

Respondent State contended that this application was not maintainable as this court had no jurisdiction. Court rejected respondents contention on jurisdiction and stated that it had jurisdiction to take this matter. The further issue before Court was whether any of the instruments invoked by the applicant, in particular, bilateral agreements or declarations and other unilateral acts, gives rise to an obligation on respondent to negotiate applicants sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.
The applicant invoked instruments such as bilateral agreements, declarations and other unilateral acts, to show that these instruments create an obligation to negotiate applicants sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. Applicant submitted that Chile’s unilateral and other declaration does not create obligation to negotiate as no evidence of intention for such assumption to negotiate was found. Similarly, the applicant asserted obligation to negotiate through instruments of acquiescence, estoppels, and legitimate expectation which the Court found to have not created any such obligation. Court found no obligation in the general duty to settle dispute under Article 2 Paragraph 3 of United Nations Charter and Article 3 of OAS Charter. Applicant also showed certain resolutions of the OAS according to which negotiations are only recommended and are not required as the same cannot be ascertained from the content of the resolutions. Not to deny the fact that resolutions are not per se binding. Court rejected all the arguments of applicant State in view that no instrument between the States as shown by applicant was able to show that obligation to negotiate on the part of Chile existed.

Therefore, no obligation to negotiate was established by instruments shown by applicant due to which Court could not consider other submissions of the applicant which were based on existence of such obligation. [Bolivia v. Chile, General List No. 153, dated 01-10-2018]

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