Costa Rica presents its case today to World Court

This is one of the satellite photos released by the U.N. agency.

Costa Rica goes to the International Court of Justice for the first of a two-day session today, and officials are expressing optimism.

But Nicaragua also is prepared to dispute Costa Rica’s evidence.

The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores released satellite photos Monday that will be part of its case at the Hague court hearing. The photos clearly show that Nicaragua is doing construction work and clearing trees on the south side of the Río San Juan. That is supposed to be Costa Rican territory, according to international treaties.

But the La Prensa newspaper in Managua gave a hint of the Nicaraguan case. A news article by Josué Bravo disparaged the Costa Rican evidence and said that the country would rely on evidence that it was working in the river channel that existed in 1858 when the Jerez–Cañas treaty, one of the principal documents defining the international boundary, was signed.

Costa Rica opens the court session today at 10 a.m., which is 3 a.m. Costa Rican time. The country will have three hours to present its case. After lunch, the Nicaraguan delegation will present its case. Wednesday each country will have time to rebut the presentations made today.

The satellite photos came from the U.N. Institute for Training and Research and its satellite program. Said the U.N.:

“A 30-year time series of satellite imagery dating from 1979 was reviewed for significant morphological and environmental changes in Costa Rica along the San Juan River area focusing on the areas of Isla Portillos and Isla Calero. Particular focus was made on identifying and analyzing important morphological and environmental changes since October 2010 over the area between the San Juan River and Laguna Los Portillos. Significant areas of recent tree cover removal, river dredging and new river channel creation were identified as occurring during the period from August to December 2010 between the San Juan River and Laguna Los Portillos; further there is apparently an area of active land removal on a meander bend of the San Juan River approximately 400 meters to the south of the newly created channel. If this meander land removal continues, it could redirect the flow of the San Juan approximately 175 meters to the west, likely increasing river flow velocity downstream; such an increase in water velocity could also have the effect of accelerating erosion

This is one of the satellite photos released by the U.N. agency. Click HERE for a larger version.

along the newly created river channel to the north.”

Costa Rica has argued that Nicaragua is doing major environmental damage in the area. The country seeks that the international court issue what amounts to a stop-work order, although the court’s power to do that is open to question.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega disregarded requests to withdraw his troops from the contested Isla Calero when that was sought by the Organization of American States.

There is no guarantee that he will abide by any court ruling.

The Costa Rican controversy is not high on the list of world leaders. U.N. General Assembly President Joseph Deiss met with Chinese leaders Monday and the topics were world hunger, infant mortality, diseases and lack of access to education and medical care. He also discussed the Sudan, the Ivory Coast and the Korean Peninsula, said the U.N.

President Barack Obama met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday, according to a wire service report. They discussed terrorism, kidnapped French citizens in Niger, the global economic recovery, the Middle East, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, as well as the referendum in southern Sudan and the situation in Ivory Coast, wire services said.

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