Chile takes Bolivia to International Court of Justice over Silala River use

SANTIAGO – Chile has lodged an appeal against Bolivia before the International Court of Justice in The Hague regarding the use of Silala River.

The Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, stressed that ‘it is essential to safeguard this water resource that has supplied several regions, including Antofagasta, Sierra Gorda and Baquedano.’

Bachelet said that the appeal ‘is backed by strong arguments, including the fact that Bolivia recognized the international character of the river for over 100 years, a stance that abruptly changed in 1999.’

She stated that Chile has all the scientific background ‘to prove before the Court that we are facing a river that crosses over Bolivia to Chile, to affirm, without a doubt, that Silala is an international river.’

The appeal submitted today in The Hague by Chile’s legal group, headed by the Director of Frontiers and Boundaries, Ximena Fuentes, stressed precisely that Silala River is an international watercourse.

It is governed by customary international law and provides Chile with the right to equitable and reasonable use of waters, she noted.

Likewise, she considered that Bolivia is liable to take all appropriate measures to prevent and control pollution and other forms of damage to Chile resulting from its activities in the Silala River. The new litigation, which is added to Bolivia’s claim against Chile in The Hague for a sovereign access to the sea, started with strong accusations by Bolivian President, Evo Morales.

Morales stated on several occasions that Chile was seizing Bolivia’s resources from the Silala, and Chile’s steps before the International Court were submitted on June 6, 2016, announced by Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz.

According to Chile, the Bolivian Government does not know about the transboundary nature of the watercourse and it also claims that it owns 100% of Silala River’s waters.