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Ecuador starts action at UN World Court against aerial spraying by Colombia

Ecuador starts action at UN World Court against aerial spraying by Colombia

Ecuador is taking Colombia to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, in a dispute between the two South American countries over the alleged aerial spraying of toxic herbicides around their common border.

In an application filed with the ICJ yesterday in The Hague, where the court is based, Ecuador said that spraying by Colombia “has already caused serious damage to people, to crops, to animals, and to the natural environment on the Ecuadorian side of the frontier, and poses a grave risk of further damage over time.”

Ecuador said it had turned to the ICJ, also known as the World Court, for adjudication because “repeated and sustained efforts to negotiate an end to the fumigations” had proven unsuccessful.

The application asks the court to declare that Colombia has violated its obligations under international law and that it must take all necessary steps to prevent the use of toxic herbicides in a way that could deposit them on Ecuadorian territory. It also asks that Colombia indemnify Ecuador for any loss or damage caused.

Ecuador said the Pact of Bogotá, reached in April 1948, and the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances should apply to the case. Colombia is yet to formally respond to Ecuador’s application.

Meanwhile, the ICJ has set deadlines for the filing of initial pleadings in the maritime boundary dispute between Peru and Chile. Peru has until 20 March next year to file and Chile has until 9 March 2010 to file its counter-claim.

In January Peru filed an application with the ICJ over the delimitation of the boundary between the Pacific Ocean maritime zones of the two countries.