Tuesday, 28 January 2014

ICJ defines Peru-Chile maritime border

On 27 January the UN court at The Hague delivered its eagerly awaited verdict on the bitter Peru-Chile maritime dispute. Judges at the ICJ awarded parts of the Pacific Ocean to Peru, the claimant in this case, while keeping considerable, rich fishing waters within Chile’s borders. The disputed territory amounted to 38,000 km2 of some of the world’s richest fishing grounds, invaluable to these two Latin American nations, both of whom being the world’s biggest exporters of fishmeal.

Following Peru’s application to the ICJ in 2008, the Court yesterday allocated 20,000 km2 to the claimant, with control over an additional 28,000 km2 of Pacific international waters. The Peruvian President, Ollanta Humala, said that he was pleased with the outcome and would “take the required actions and measures immediately for its prompt implementation". Lima wanted the maritime boundary to extend out in a south westerly direction, contiguous to the land border.
Santiago disagreed with this interpretation, believing instead that the boundary should lie parallel to the equator, based on bilateral treaties signed in the 1950s. “Its position throughout the proceedings was that the Parties had already delimited the whole maritime area in dispute, by agreement, in 1952, and that, accordingly, no maritime delimitation should be performed by the Court,” the judges said.  Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said she would begin implementing the ruling gradually, despite citing it as a “painful loss”.
In its final ruling, the Court “defined the course of the maritime boundary between the Parties without determining the precise geographical co-ordinates. Moreover, the Court has not been asked to do so in the Parties’ final submissions. The Court expects that the Parties will determine these co-ordinates in accordance with the present Judgment, in the spirit of good neighbourliness.” However, it did say that the boundary should begin at the same point that it does now. 

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