Colombia rejects Court of Justice ruling on Caribbean islands disputed with Nicaragua
Colombia rejected the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision on the dispute with Nicaragua which recognized Colombian sovereignty over the disputed San Andrés islands but extended Nicaragua’s maritime space surrounding the islands.
In a message to the people of Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos called the ICJ redrawing of the map “inconsistent” with other elements of the Court’s ruling and incompatible with the 1928 Esguerra-Bárcenas Boarder Treaty.
“These are all omissions, errors, excesses and inconsistencies that we cannot accept,” Santos said. “Taking all this into account, Colombia—represented by its head of state—emphatically rejects this aspect of the ruling by the Court.”
Santos said Colombia will not “rule out any recourse or mechanism provided by international law to defend our rights.”
He said his government “respects the law,” but thinks the ICJ is “seriously wrong” in altering the maritime boundaries to give more ocean to Nicaragua.
Santos said that first and foremost his job as president is to defend Colombia’s constitution and “it is evident that this ruling contradicts our Magna Carta and various international treaties.”
Santos closed by telling the people of Colombia and San Andres that they can rest assured that his government “will defend, with total conviction, the rights of the islanders and all our compatriots.”
Previous to Santos’ comments the ruling by The Hague, which is legally binding for both countries, was hailed by Nicaragua as a final resolution to the decades’ long border conflict between the two countries.
Colombian Foreign minister María Angela Holguín at a press conference in the island of San Andrés said that the The Hague Court ruling has “inconsistencies, omissions referred to the continental platform of the (disputed) islands of San Andres and Providencia”, but at no moment “have we said we will not abide the decision. We are considering other legal resources”.
Ms Holguín said the International Court of Justice decision was “not fair” and admitted the Colombian government is ‘baffled’ because in similar cases the court “has never adopted a decision like that announced on Monday”.
The decision “ignores the exclusive economic zone and the continental platform of the island of Providencia, as well as the continental platform and exclusive economic zone of San Andrés island to the south”, claimed the Colombian minister.
The dispute dates back to 1928 when Nicaragua ceded to Colombia the islands of San Andres and Providencia under the Barcenas-Meneses Esguerra treaty, ratified in 1933. But by then Nicaragua had been intervened by the United States.
In 1969 Colombia tried to establish the limit with Nicaragua along the 82 meridian, but Managua rejected the proposal saying the treaty did not establish limits and that the new initiative cut Nicaragua’s Caribbean continental shelf. In 1980 Nicaragua rejected the treaty.
In 2001 Nicaragua disputed before the International Court of Justice Colombia’s sovereignty over the disputes archipelago, but six years later admitted Colombian sovereignty over the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina and declared it was competent to decide on the maritime delimitation between the two countries as well as of other smaller keys.