Costa Rica calls on UN to halt Nicaraguan canal

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Costa Rican government has called on the UN's international court of justice in The Hague to halt construction of Nicaragua's US$40bn interoceanic canal, according to releases from the court.

In a hearing held on October 14, the Costa Rican government accused Nicaragua of building two artificial canals along the San Juan river in contravention of an earlier UN court order that prevented construction in the disputed border territory.

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Nicaragua and Costa Rica have been involved in a legal dispute concerning border rights and purported environmental damage along the San Juan and Colorado rivers since 2010.

Both countries will participate in a second round of oral hearings on October 16 and 17.

Construction of the channels along the San Juan river will make way for Nicaragua's interoceanic canal, concessioned to Hong Kong-based firm HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment and its local arm HKND in June this year. HKND plans to complete the canal by 2019, with works expected to start in December 2014, following conclusion of the feasibility studies, said HKND CEO Wang Jing previously.

Nicaragua's counter claim against the Costa Rican government for purported damage to the San Juan river has to do with the construction of a 160km road. Nicaragua's claims, to be heard in November, are that construction has caused a surge in the river's sediment load, requiring Nicaragua to carry out dredging to maintain water quantity and quality as well as putting local residents at risk of flooding.