Did the ICJ Really Call the Bolivian Application Against Chile “Impeccable”?

by Julian Ku

This report out of Prensa Latina in Havana suggests that the ICJ has expressed some sort of positive opinion on quality of Bolivia’s case against Chile.

In a press conference, [Bolivian Foreign Minister] Choquehuanca announced the International Court notified Chile on the start of the process and reasserted the Bolivian will of not affecting the bilateral relations with Chile. He also said the Court regarded the Bolivian demand as impeccable, and he expressed his trust in a favourable resolution for Bolivia.

(Emphasis added).  Now there are no doubt some translation issues here, and Prensa Latina is not exactly the most authoritative source.  But it does seem like the Bolivian Foreign Minister is suggesting that the ICJ, in its routine acceptance of an application by a member state, expressed some opinion about the nature and quality of Bolivia’s substantive case.  I am sure this is NOT the case, since the Court’s Registrar is only functioning in an administrative capacity here.  So if the Foreign Minister did in fact say what Prensa Latina reported, his statement is very misleading.  Hey, ICJ Press Office! I think you should issue a statement or something.


4 Responses

  1. That really sounds like less than meets the eye. The Registrar probably just communicated something along the lines that the application had ticked all the boxes in terms of formal criteria and addresing the issues it needs to address. Some states can be surprisingly sloppy when they send in an application and possibly need to be reminded to remedy some of the deficiencies of their initial application. The Registrar  tends to be quite helpful in that regard. In the diplo-speak of the Court that may involve terminology like “in perfect order” which after some translations back and forth can turn into “impeccable”, and a government minister with limited experience with the ICJ can easily interpret this as more than it really means.

  2. Agreed- procedural comment from the Registrar. Choquehuanca said: ‘Una vez entregada la demanda de manera formal las autoridades de la Corte Internacional de Justicia se han tomado un tiempo para revisar si la demanda cumplía los requisitos y los procedimientos establecidos, después de revisar nuestra demanda, ellos han calificado que la demanda era impecable’ The only word that will be repeated in the press is ‘impeccable’. 

  3. “Impeccable” in Spanish, in thjs context, means that it fulfilled the formal criteria. Whether this was intentional or a mistake, I cannot say, but note Cuba and Bolivia are regional allies. I might be wrong, but I doubt other media outlets wrote it that way.     

  4. I concur that this is merely a confusion between what the Registrar said concerning formal criteria of the application and imprecision in the press note. In any case, never give sufficient authority to publications of the press in Cuba since as you may know, there is no such thing as independent media in that country. 
    That being said, I was informed that apparently Prof. Antonio Remiro Brotons, from the Autonomous University of Madrid is one of the lawyers of Bolivia in this proceeding. He is a very well know and reputed scholar in the Spanish-speaking world. Guess he is very expensive also, which makes sense since I read that Bolivia has spent more than $2 million in the preparation of its case against Chile. In case you want to check it out, here is the link for the profile of Prof. Remiro Brotons: http://www.uam.es/ss/Satellite/Derecho/en/1242658631295/1242659299176/persona/detallePDI/Remiro_Brotons,_Antonio.htm

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