The International Court of Justice (ICJ) of the UN ruled this Thursday that Colombia must “cease immediately” interference in the waters of the Caribbean Sea that this court recognizes as belonging to the exclusive economic zone of Nicaragua.
By 10 votes against 5, the ICJ judges considered that Colombia “has violated the sovereign and jurisdictional rights of Nicaragua”and by 9 votes against 6 they indicated that Colombia “You must immediately cease such conduct.”
This controversy between the two countries has its origin in a sentence of the ICJ itself in 2012, which recognized Colombia’s sovereignty in the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, in the Caribbean.but recognized the jurisdiction of Nicaragua in the surrounding waters.
In 2013, Nicaragua filed a complaint with the court alleging that Colombia interfered in fishing and scientific activities in waters under its jurisdiction, and since then the process had dragged on in The Hague.
Colombia argued that this was due to compliance with its commitments in the fight against drug trafficking and in the environmental protection of waters.
In addition, the Colombian delegation filed counterclaims against Nicaragua, including one for violating the rights of communities that inhabit those islands and that have practiced artisanal and subsistence fishing for centuries in the region. That claim, however, was not admitted by the court. The ICJ also dismissed a claim by Nicaragua over Colombia’s alleged issuance of oil exploration permits. However, it pointed out in its recitals that Colombia does “has violated its international obligations” by authorizing fishing activities in waters under the jurisdiction of Nicaragua.