LA PAZ – The Bolivian government warned on Monday that it will keep up its fight to win sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean as the country’s inalienable right, even though the World Court tossed out its lawsuit against Chile.
“Despite that rejection, Bolivia’s valid right to sovereign maritime access is and always will be inalienable,” Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said at the seat of government in La Paz.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled 12-3 that Chile is not legally obliged to negotiate with Bolivia to give the landlocked nation “sovereign access” to the Pacific Ocean.
However, the ICJ judges added that the ruling should not hinder the countries from re-entering negotiations “in the spirit of good neighborliness.”
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales traveled to The Hague for the announcement of the verdict.
In brief comments to the media outside the court, Morales said on Monday that his country “will never renounce its hope to gain access to the Pacific Ocean and rated as positive the ICJ’s “appeal” to Chile to continue the dialogue.
Garcia Linera acknowledged he was unhappy about the verdict, but like Morales, sought to draw something positive from the judgment.
In that regard, he said the ICJ noted that Bolivia was founded as a country with a Pacific coastline, which it later lost in the 1879-1880 War of the Pacific against Chile, and that the 1904 Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed after that conflict “has not resolved all the pending problems.”
Although the verdict “closes one door,” according to the Bolivian vice president, it opens others by calling for the use of “mechanisms and procedures of the United Nations” meant to find peaceful solutions to conflicts between nations.
“Bolivia will choose the best mechanisms,” Garcia Linera said.
La Paz brought the case to the World Court in April 2013 after concluding that Santiago was unwilling to concede anything beyond an existing arrangement which gives Bolivia duty-free access to the northern Chilean port of Arica.
Bolivia lost 120,000 sq km (46,330 sq mi) of territory to Chile as a consequence of the 1879-1880 War of the Pacific.
Chile has argued that 1904 Treaty of Peace and Friendship between La Paz and Santiago settled the border issue.
Santiago tried to get the ICJ to throw out the suit in 2015, but the judges refused, insisting that the court did have jurisdiction in the case.