The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua filed an Application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Colombia concerning a dispute in relation to “the violations of Nicaragua’s sovereign rights and maritime zones declared by the ICJ’s Judgment of 19 November 2012 [in the case concerning Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia)] and the threat of the use of force by Colombia in order to implement these violations”. Nicaragua sought to found the Court’s jurisdiction on Article XXXI of the Pact of Bogotá. According to the provision, the parties to the Pact recognize the Court’s jurisdiction as compulsory in “all disputes of a juridical nature”.
Colombia raised five preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court. According to the first objection, the Court lacked jurisdiction ratione temporis under the Pact of Bogotá because the proceedings were instituted by Nicaragua on 26 November 2013, after Colombia’s notice of denunciation of the Pact on 27 November 2012. In its second objection, Colombia argued that, even if the Court did not uphold the first objection, the Court still had no jurisdiction under the Pact of Bogotá because there was no dispute between the Parties on the date when the Application was filed. Colombia contended in its third objection that, even if the Court did not uphold the first objection, the Court still had no jurisdiction under the Pact of Bogotá because, at the time of the filing of the Application, the Parties were not of the opinion that the purported controversy could not be settled by direct negotiations through the usual diplomatic channels, as is required, in Colombia’s view, by Article II of the Pact of Bogotá before resorting to the dispute resolution procedures of the Pact. In its fourth objection, Colombia contested Nicaragua’s assertion that the Court had an “inherent jurisdiction” enabling it to pronounce itself on the alleged non-compliance with a previous judgment. Finally, according to Colombia’s fifth objection, the Court had no jurisdiction with regard to compliance with a prior judgment, which is, in its opinion, the real subject-matter of Nicaragua’s claims.
Rejecting all the objections, the ICJ observed that Colombia’s interpretation of Article LVI could not be accepted. Taking Article LVI as a whole, and in light of its context and the object and purpose of the Pact, the Court concluded that Article XXXI conferring jurisdiction upon the Court remained in force between the Parties on the date that the Application was filed. The subsequent termination of the Pact as between Nicaragua and Colombia did not affect the jurisdiction which existed on the date that the proceedings were instituted. Colombia’s first preliminary objection must therefore be rejected. Also the Court concluded that, at the time Nicaragua filed its Application, there existed a dispute concerning the alleged violations by Colombia of Nicaragua’s rights in the maritime zones which, according to Nicaragua, the Court declared in its 2012 Judgment appertain to Nicaragua. The ICJ observed that it was for the Court, not Nicaragua, to decide the real character of the dispute before it. Nevertheless, the Court held that the dispute before it concerned the alleged violations by Colombia of Nicaragua’s rights in the maritime zones which, according to Nicaragua, the Court declared in its 2012 Judgment appertain to Nicaragua. As between Nicaragua and Colombia, those rights were derived from customary international law. The 2012 Judgment of the Court was undoubtedly relevant to that dispute in that it determined the maritime boundary between the Parties and, consequently, which of the Parties possessed sovereign rights under customary international law in the maritime areas with which the present case was concerned. In the present case, however, Nicaragua asked the Court to adjudge and declare that Colombia had breached “its obligation not to violate Nicaragua’s maritime zones as delimited in paragraph 251 of the Court’s Judgment of 19 November 2012 as well as Nicaragua’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction in these zones” and “that, consequently, Colombia had the obligation to wipe out the legal and material consequences of its internationally wrongful acts, and make full reparation for the harm caused by those acts”. The ICJ held that Nicaragua did not seek to enforce the 2012 Judgment as such and thus Colombia’s final objection was also rejected.