THE HAGUE – The International Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that the Uruguayan paper mill on the border with Argentina did not cause environmental damage that would justify the payment of an indemnity demanded by Buenos Aires.
At the same time, the judges found that Uruguay did not fulfill its obligation to inform Argentina about the project on the Uruguay River, which is under the joint control of both countries.
Both Montevideo and Buenos Aires expressed satisfaction with the ruling, which partially acknowledges the arguments of both nations, who have been mired in a conflict since 2003 over the construction of a paper mill by Finland’s Botnia.
The ICJ ruled that while Montevideo is violating the 1975 Uruguay River Statute by not giving Argentina timely notice of the plan for paper mill, the Uruguayan action did not result in any damage to the environment.
Therefore, the Court did not require that the Botnia plant’s construction be halted or demand that Uruguay economically compensate Argentina.
At the doors of the Court, and after the reading of the ruling, which lasted 2 1/2 hours, the legal council for the Argentine Foreign Ministry, Susana Ruiz Cerutti, said she was “satisfied” with the decision.
After the ruling, she said, “there will be no more unilateral projects” by Uruguay.
Meanwhile, former Uruguayan Foreign Minister Pedro Vaz also said he was satisfied with the decision.
The ICJ’s move was the latest step in a conflict between the neighbors to which a solution had not been found in previous bilateral negotiations.
Argentina filed a claim with the Court in 2006 over the establishment of two paper mills – one was eventually moved to the Uruguayan interior – and requested the halting of the projects.
For its part, Uruguay also asked the ICJ to order that the blockades that Argentine environmentalists mounted on a key cross-border bridge be ended. EFE