Friday, 20 September 2013

Nicaragua files new lawsuit against Colombia

Nicaragua has instituted proceedings against Colombia once again over a dispute concerning maritime borders in the oil-rich Caribbean Sea. According to the ICJ, the “dispute concerns the delimitation of the boundaries between, on the one hand, the continental shelf of Nicaragua beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured, and on the other hand, the continental shelf of Colombia”. Nicaragua now contends that its “continental margin extends more than 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured.”
The new claim was made following comments from Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, who rejected the previous ruling by the ICJ in November 2012 following an 11-year case between the two neighbours, saying that a resolution could only be achieved through a bilateral accord. That ruling, entitled “Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v.Colombia),” stipulated that the ownership of the San Andres islands would remain with Colombia, but that the waters east of the 82ndmeridian, surrounding the uninhabited archipelago, would fall within Nicaragua's economic zone, a decision that President Daniel Ortega celebrated at the time. In response, Santos said that Colombia no longer recognised the jurisdiction of the ICJ and subsequently threatened to pull out of the Bogota Treaty of 1948, which recognises the court's rulings.
Colombia's recent remarks come amid news that Nicaragua intends to auction off dozens of offshore oil blocks in the disputed 11,000km2waters in the south western Caribbean Sea, thought not only to be rich in shrimp and lobster, but also oil and gas. Last month Bogota's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin wrote a letter to Managua in protest at what she regards as the flagrant courting of IOCs by her northern neighbour.
The two sides have been debating the maritime border since 1819, when they became independent from Spain. They settled the border and the sovereignty of various Caribbean islands in 1928, but in 1980 Nicaragua's revolutionary Sandinista government annulled the treaty, claiming that it was signed under pressure from Washington. However the ICJ said in 2007 that the treaty remained valid.
San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina lie 775km off the Colombian coast and 230km off Nicaragua's.

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