What is the International Court of Justice?
The International Court of Justice or ICJ for short is a branch of the United Nations and contains exactly 15 judges elected by the General Assembly.
The 2 functions:
- deals with disputes between states
- gives advisory opinions
|The ICJ in the Hague|
- are opinions regarding international law
- are essentially answers to questions asked by the UN General Assembly, international agencies, or branches
- Advisory opinions are made by the majority of the judges in the court
The Importance of Advisory Opinions:
Advisory Opinions to me, play a significant role in international law as these opinions are answers that allow us to better understand the subject. Using both logic and reason, the judges are able to come up with the answers to pressing questions that arise, thus, avoiding confusion and issues regarding or relating to international law.
“Dispute over the Status and Use of the Waters of the Silala (Chile v. Bolivia)”
Before reading the actual analysis, know this:
The Silala River is a body of water that flows through two sovereign states. It starts as a “spring” in Bolivia and continues to flow to Chile. In brief, the dispute revolves around the fact that Chile believes the river is an international one, whereas Bolivia believes that it is not a river and would not be one if canals had not been built around it. Keep in mind that an “international river” is “a river that flows through or between two or more countries”. Now that you understand the background information, here is the actual analysis and evidence. (I am including screenshots of the application to the ICJ which outlines the details of the case, here is a link: Chile Application)
Subject of the Dispute:
The definition comes from Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses ofInternational Watercourses(1977).
|Image of the Silala River|
By stating this, Chile shows that Bolivia’s argument is invalid as the river emerging through a spring still makes it a watercourse. However, because “Bolivia claims that waters from the Silala Spring, which crosses their shared border, … and that Chile has been artificially diverting water”, means that Bolivia has never officially recognized this body of water as a “River”. The state of Bolivia (as shown in the quote) refers to this as a “Spring”. This means that because Bolivia did not recognize the body of water as a river, therefore, the waters cannot ‘form’ or be emerged through a spring if the body of water itself has always been one. In other words, a “the waters forming” a spring cannot “emerge” from/through a spring.
I predict that a possible argument Bolivia would have would be that since “Chile has been artificially diverting water”, it is unfair to call this water source a “river” if it had originally been a spring.
Remember, I am still learning and if my opinion, analysis, arguments, or anything at all could be improved in some way let me know! Also, keep in mind that I am just providing my own opinion and would be happy to have feedback and opinions from you as well.
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