AMSTERDAM: The International Court of Justice will continue to hear a case brought by Bolivia against Chile seeking to force its neighbour to enter negotiations to grant it unfettered access to the Pacific Ocean, the court said on Thursday.
Chile had asked the court, also known as the World Court, for a preliminary ruling that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case because of the 1904 Peace Treaty that fixed its border with Bolivia.
But the court rejected Chile's request, saying that treaty does not address Bolivia's claim that Chile has an obligation to negotiate "sovereign access" to the Pacific.
"The matters in the dispute are not matters already settled by arrangements between the parties ... or governed by treaties in force," Presiding Judge Ronny Abraham of France said, reading the 14-2 decision by the international panel of judges in The Hague.
The decision does not address the merit of Bolivia's case. It only means that the dispute will continue. The court did not say when it would make a ruling in the case. Neither side has advanced its actual arguments.
Landlocked Bolivia took up the case with the court in 2013, demanding Chile negotiate to grant it sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. Bolivia lost access to the Pacific following an 1880s war.
Bolivia says it will boost its natural gas and mineral exports with sovereign access to the ocean, though it already has low-cost access to the sea through Chilean ports.
The International Court of Justice is the United Nations' court for resolving disputes between countries. Its rulings are binding and cannot be appealed.