The International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] on Tuesday ordered [text, PDF; order summary, PDF] both Costa Rica and Nicaragua to remove all personnel from the disputed border region. Costa Rica filed a complaint with the ICJ [JURIST report] in November accusing Nicaragua of violating its territorial integrity and damaging protected wetlands. Tuesday's order is a preliminary measure while the case is pending before the court. The ICJ unanimously ordered all civilian, police and military personnel out of the area and voted 13-4 to allow Costa Rica to send environmental personnel to the area:
Each Party shall refrain from sending to, or maintaining in the disputed territory, including the cano, any personnel, whether civilian, police or security. ... Costa Rica may dispatch civilian personnel charged with the protection of the environment to the disputed territory, including the cano, but only in so far as it is necessary to avoid irreparable prejudice being caused to the part of the wetland where that territory is situated; Costa Rica shall consult with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention in regard to these actions, give Nicaragua prior notice of them and use its best endeavours to find common solutions with Nicaragua in this respect.Officials from both countries praised the ruling [CP report].
The case centers around Calero Island, a small area of land at the mouth of the San Jose river that has been disputed territory for over a century. The dispute arose last month when Eden Pastora, director of the dredging project, relied on a Google Maps error [Google Maps statement] based on flawed US State Department [official website] information to send troops to the area. In 2009, the ICJ adjudicated another dispute [JURIST report] between Costa Rica and Nicaragua surrounding use of the San Jose river, which separates the two Central American nations. The court ruled [judgment, PDF] in July 2009 that Nicaragua had interfered with Costa Rica's right of free navigation on the San Juan river four years after Costa Rica filed the complaint [case materials] in 2005.