Nicaragua and Colombia have been arguing for more than 20 years about a small archipelago for maritime territory.
On September 20, the International Court of Justice started hearing Nicaragua and Colombia regarding “alleged violations of sovereign rights and maritime spaces in the caribbean sea“.
Nicaragua brought Colombia to the ICJ for the third time in 20 years about maritime borders in an archipelago including the islands of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina.
The archipelago is about 200 kilometers off the coast of the Central American Country and 650 kilometers off Colombia’s mainland. Last May, the Colombian police seized a plane with 446 kilograms of cocaine hidden under face masks in Santa Catalina.
Nine years ago, The Hague confirmed Colombia’s sovereignty on seven cays around the three islands.
However, the ruling also defined the maritime boundaries, which gave Nicaragua 40% of the territorial sea in the west on San Andrés, prompting rejection from Colombia.
Conclusions for the dispute in 2022
In The Hague, Nicaragua argues Colombia doesn’t follow the ruling by constantly patrolling in the area, constituting a threat of using force.
Moreover, the Constitutional Court of Colombia determined the sentence could only be implemented through a treaty in 2014, which would need to be approved by Congress and ratified by the President. For the agent of Nicaragua in The Hague, this is “simply an excuse for not complying” with the ruling.
The Central American country also refers to audio recordings from 2015 in which Colombian coast guards say “the decision from the Hague is inapplicable”.
On the other side, Colombia finds Nicaragua’s claims “exorbitant” while they breach “inalienable rights” of Colombians. They argue Nicaragua conducts predatory fishing and doesn’t respect the fishing rights of the archipelago’s community, the Raizal, and their access to their traditional fishing areas.
Moreover, they say Nicaragua issued a decree to extend its internal waters and maritime territory beyond what international laws allow.
The hearing includes oral arguments and counter-claims for both country and continues until October 1. The conclusions will be drawn in 2022.
Nicaragua raised another litigation to the ICJ with Colombia regarding delimitation of the “continental shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan coast“.