Colombia Loses Territorial Waters

The maritime border between Colombia and Nicaragua was changed on Monday, and defined for good, following a highly anticipated ruling from the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The tribunal, which is made up of judges picked by the UN Security Council, decided on Monday to grant Nicaragua around 60 percent of a disputed area of the caribbean that had been previously administered by Colombia, jeopardizing the future of fishermen from the Colombian island of San Andres, but granting new opportunities to Nicaraguan fishermen.

The area under dispute is shown in the above picture. It consists of a quadrant of the Caribbean Sea that is approximately 126 miles wide by 278 miles long, and also includes the Colombian islands of San Andrés and Providencia, which have a population of some 80,000 people.

A treaty signed in 1928 by Colombia and Nicaragua gave Colombia sovereignty over all the water to the east of 82nd meridian, a geographic line that is located less than 70 miles from the Nicaraguan coast. This document, called the Esguerra-Barcenas treaty, also said that Colombia owned the San Andrés and Providencia Islands.

But Nicaragua said that this treaty was invalid because it was signed at a time when that country was under U.S. occupation. The ICJ also said on Monday that the Esguerra-Barcenas Treaty contradicts international regulations that give countries the right to control an area of the sea that lies within 200 nautical miles [230 miles] off their shores.

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Article and image courtesy of ABC news, written by Manuel Rueda.

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