Tags: Latin America | nicaragua | colombia | maritime | dispute

Nicaragua Files New Claim Against Colombia in Maritime Dispute

Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 08:42 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

Nicaragua has launched legal action against Colombia in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), claiming potentially oil-rich areas in the Caribbean, the BBC reports.
 
In the new case, Managua requests an expansion of the borders fixed last year by the court. The ICJ ruled last November that the San Andres archipelago, which includes three islands and several uninhabited islets, would remain with Colombia. But most of the sea around it would become part of Nicaragua's economic zone.
 
The long-running case has been before the ICJ since December 2001, when Nicaragua first filed its claim. But the dispute goes back much further. The competing claims date from the early 19th century, when Latin American nations were gaining their independence from Spain.
 
Nicaragua and Colombia had signed a treaty in 1928 to settle the border and sovereignty of islands in the Caribbean.
 
But in 1980, Nicaragua's Marxist-dominated Sandinista government (headed by current Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega) unilaterally annulled the agreement, arguing that it had been coerced by the United States.
 
In 2007, the ICJ ruled that the treaty was valid and that the sovereignty of three islands, San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina, remained with Colombia.
 
But its subsequent decision to expand Nicaraguan territorial waters is considered an important legal victory for Managua.
 
"The court has given to Nicaragua what belonged to us: thousands of kilometers of natural resources," Ortega said.
 
Nicaragua announced last month that it would begin drilling for oil and gas in the area.

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