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Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)

Overview of the case

On 24 April 2013, the Plurinational State of Bolivia instituted proceedings against the Republic of Chile before the Court, concerning a dispute in relation to “Chile’s obligation to negotiate in good faith and effectively with Bolivia in order to reach an agreement granting Bolivia a fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean”. In its Application, Bolivia asserted that “beyond its general obligations under international law, Chile has committed itself, more specifically through agreements, diplomatic practice and a series of declarations attributable to its highest-level representatives, to negotiate a sovereign access to the sea for Bolivia”. According to Bolivia, “Chile has not complied with this obligation and . . . denies the existence of its obligation”. In its Application, as the basis for the jurisdiction of the Court, Bolivia invoked Article XXXI of the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement (Pact of Bogotá) of 30 April 1948.

On 15 July 2014, Chile filed a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Court, and the proceedings on the merits were then suspended. After Bolivia filed its written statement on the preliminary objection, public hearings were held in May 2015. In its Judgment rendered on 24 September 2015, the Court rejected the preliminary objection raised by Chile and found that it had jurisdiction to entertain the Application filed by Bolivia.

Following the submission of Chile’s Counter-Memorial, the Court authorized the submission of a Reply by Bolivia and a Rejoinder by Chile and fixed 21 March and 21 September 2017 as the respective time-limits for those pleadings. Public hearings were held in March 2018, and the Court delivered its Judgment on the merits on 1 October 2018.

In its Judgment, the Court considered the various legal bases invoked by Bolivia in support of Chile’s alleged obligation to negotiate Bolivia’s sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

The Court concluded that none of those bases established an obligation for Chile to negotiate Bolivia’s sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. It added that its finding should not be understood “as precluding the Parties from continuing their dialogue and exchanges, in a spirit of good neighbourliness, to address the issues relating to the landlocked situation of Bolivia, the solution to which both had recognized to be a matter of mutual interest. With willingness on the part of the Parties, meaningful negotiations could be undertaken”.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Written proceedings

Written statement of Bolivia on the preliminary objection of Chile

7 November 2014
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
English French

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 2015/18

Public sitting held on Monday 4 May 2015, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Preliminary Objection
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2015/19

Public sitting held on Wednesday 6 May 2015, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Preliminary Objection
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2015/20

Public sitting held on Thursday 7 May 2015, at 4.30 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Preliminary Objection
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2015/21

Public sitting held on Friday 8 May 2015, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Abraham presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Preliminary Objection
Procedure(s): Preliminary objections
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2018/6

Public sitting held on Monday 19 March 2018, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Yusuf presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2018/7

Public sitting held on Tuesday 20 March 2018, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Yusuf presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2018/8

Public sitting held on Thursday 22 March 2018, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Yusuf presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2018/9

Public sitting held on Friday 23 March 2018, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Yusuf presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2018/10

Public sitting held on Monday 26 March 2018, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Yusuf presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2018/11

Public sitting held on Wednesday 28 March 2018, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Yusuf presiding, in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Other documents

Orders

Order of 18 June 2013

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 15 July 2014

Fixing of time-limit: written statement of observations and submissions on preliminary objection
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 24 September 2015

Fixing of time-limit: Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 21 September 2016

Fixing of time-limits: Reply and Rejoinder
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 2015/2

Summary of the Judgment of 24 September 2015
Available in:
English French

Summary 2018/5

Summary of the Judgment of 1 October 2018
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 2013/11

24 April 2013
Bolivia institutes proceedings against Chile with regard to a dispute concerning the obligation of Chile to negotiate the "sovereign access of Bolivia to the Pacific Ocean"
Available in:
English French

Press release 2013/15

1 July 2013
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Fixing of time-limits for the filing of the initial pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 2014/24

16 July 2014
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Fixing of the time-limit for the filing of a written statement by Bolivia on the preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Court raised by Chile
Available in:
English French

Press release 2015/8

16 February 2015
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Preliminary Objection - The Court to hold public hearings from Monday 4 May to Friday 8 May 2015
Available in:
English French

Press release 2015/13

8 May 2015
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Conclusion of the public hearings on the Preliminary Objection raised by the Republic of Chile - Court to begin its deliberation
Available in:
English French

Press release 2015/22

9 September 2015
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Preliminary Objection to the jurisdiction of the Court - The Court to deliver its Judgment on Thursday 24 September 2015
Available in:
English French

Press release 2015/23

24 September 2015
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - The Court rejects the preliminary objection raised by Chile and finds that it has jurisdiction to entertain the Application filed by Bolivia on 24 April 2013
Available in:
English French

Press release 2015/24

25 September 2015
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Fixing of time-limit for the filing of the Counter-Memorial of Chile
Available in:
English French

Press release 2016/27

27 September 2016
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - The Court authorizes Bolivia to submit a Reply and Chile to submit a Rejoinder and fixes time-limits for the filing of these pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 2018/6

31 January 2018
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - The Court to hold public hearings from Monday 19 to Wednesday 28 March 2018
Available in:
English French

Press release 2018/16

28 March 2018
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - Conclusion of the public hearings - The Court to begin its deliberation
Available in:
English French

Press release 2018/45

13 September 2018
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - The Court to deliver its Judgment on Monday 1 October 2018 at 3 p.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 2018/49

1 October 2018
Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) - The Court finds that the Republic of Chile did not undertake a legal obligation to negotiate a sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean for the Plurinational State of Bolivia
Available in:
English French

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