ICJ Rejects Provisional Measures in Ecuador v Mexico Case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Thursday that the court would not implement provisional measures against Ecuador following a request by the Mexican government.

The ICJ’s Ruling

The Court found unanimously that the current situation between Ecuador and Mexico did not warrant provisional measures, with the Court noting their reliance on Ecuador’s “assurances,” which the Court believes to be legally binding. These “assurances” are likely a nod to Ecuador’s opening representative, who claimed the court case was “unnecessary and unjustified” due to Ecuador’s formal promise to Mexico to protect and safeguard the Embassy alongside all documents while also allowing Mexico to clear the premises of the embassy alongside private residences belonging to embassy staff.

The ruling comes after both nations brought forth their arguments to the court. The ruling on no provisional measures is a solid defeat for Mexico in their case against Ecuador, with the former requesting a laundry list of provisional measures against Ecuador, including suspending the nation’s membership in the United Nations.

The Measures Requested Follow:

  • That the Government of Ecuador refrains from acting against the inviolability of the premises of the mission and the private residences of diplomatic agents, and that it takes appropriate measures to protect and respect them, as well as the property and archives therein, preventing any form of disturbance.
  • That the Government of Ecuador allows the Mexican Government to clear
  • diplomatic premises and the private residence of diplomatic agents.
  • That the Government of Ecuador ensures that no action is taken that might
  • prejudice the rights of Mexico in respect of any decision which the Court may render on the merits.
  • That the Government of Ecuador refrains from any act or conduct likely to aggravate or widen the dispute of which the Court is seized.”

While the lack of provisional measures is a victory for Ecuador, cases put forth to the International Court take years to conclude, meaning that Mexico may have further opportunities to act against Ecuador and could succeed in the final ruling of the case.

The Backdrop

The case revolves around Ecuador’s controversial raid on the Mexican Embassy in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, in order to apprehend former Vice President Jorge Glas, who was convicted on two charges of corruption and fled to the Mexican Embassy. This flight was successful largely due to the Ecuadorian government allowing Glas to leave prison temporarily to receive medical treatment in November 2022 on the condition that Glas meet with authorities once a week and not leave the country. This temporary freedom was voided in late January 2024 following a ruling by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court, which declared the ruling granting Glas freedom to be unconstituional.

The order to recapture Glas and return him to prison prompted Glas to seek asylum in the Mexican Embassy, a request that would eventually be granted and led to swift condemnation by the Ecuadorian government. Ecuadorian officials claimed in court that the approval of asylum was in an effort to shield Glas from justice, and such a designation was an abuse of asylum.

Jorge Glas speaking at a press conference at the Government Palace in Quito. (Photo – Reuters/Daniel Tapia)

Ecuadorian officials claim that during the weeks leading up to the raid on the embassy, the staff at the Mexican Embassy failed to maintain communications with authorities for an entire month, leading to Ecuadorian officials contacting the Embassy, which resulted in a diplomatic mission from Mexico traveling to Ecuador. This mission would discuss the situation with Glas, wherein the Ecuadorian officials stressed that the former vice president was convicted on common law charges and thus could not be granted asylum.

Prior to the raid, the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, made what Ecuadorian officials consider “utterly unacceptable” statements regarding President Daniel Noboa’s recent electoral victory. Obrador alleged that the murder of a left-wing political candidate was orchestrated by Noboa, stating “that the murder was planned so as to benefit the current President of Ecuador at the ballot.” This led to the designation of Mexico’s Ambassador to Ecuador as “persona non grata” and a request for the official to “leave immediately.” A designation Mexico alleged was an act of aggression.

Ecuadorian military officials pictured standing outside of of Ecuador’s Flagrancy Unit, where former Ecuador Vice President Jorge Glas was taken following his arrest. (Photo – Karen Toro/Reuters)

Following this designation, and in a move that Ecuadorian officials have regarded as “political payback,” Mexico approved Glas’ request for asylum. Shortly after this approval, Mexico would request approval to land two jets in order to facilitate the return of the ambassador to Mexico. Officials noted that the ambassador requested to leave with an “entourage,” a request that Ecuador stated was actually made in order to facilitate Glas’ “imminent escape” from Ecuador.

In response to what they believed to be the planned escape of Glas, Ecuadorian authorities launched the infamous raid on the Embassy. Authorities descended on the embassy, with heavily armed police units entering the compound in order to search for Glas.

Footage posted by the Mexican Foreign Ministry showcased authorities breaching the embassy and carrying out a search of the premises. While the operation was in progress, Mexican diplomat Roberto Canseco could be seen building a barricade at one of the points of entry into the embassy.

Footage then showed what looked to be Canseco being wrestled out of the embassy after attempting to physically block authorities while the search was underway. Canseco was later thrown to the ground by police outside of the embassy while attempting to physically block authorities from transporting Glas. These confrontations between Canseco and authorities “undermined his [Canseco’s] dignity” and led to “injuries to his arms, legs, face, back, and neck, as well as psychological harm,” Mexico said in their filing with the ICJ.

Following the capture of Glas, authorities transported the former vice president to a prison known as “La Roca” or “the Rock” in Guayaquil, the same prison infamous gang leader Fito Macias escaped from in early January, which subsequently plunged Ecuador into a state of war between government forces and the gangs. It was here that Glas would be found unconscious in his cell, forcing authorities to transport him to a nearby military hospital. The National Service for Comprehensive Attention to Persons Deprived of Liberty, the organization that is in charge of administering Ecuadorian prisons, stated that Glas had passed out from lack of sustenance after refusing to eat for 24 hours.

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is an Intelligence Analyst for Atlas News. He has years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.


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