Colombia rejects Nicaraguan claims to World Court over maritime borders


General view of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, The Netherlands, December 11, 2019. REUTERS / Yves Herman / File Photo

THE HAGUE, Sept. 22 (Reuters) – Colombia’s lawyers on Wednesday dismissed Nicaragua’s claims at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), insisting Bogota had complied with a 2012 ruling on their maritime borders in the Caribbean Western decisions made by the same court.

“All of Nicaragua’s claims are unfounded and artificial. They are based on words,” not deeds, said lawyer Manuel Jose Cepeda.

Lawyers for Nicaragua said on Monday that Colombia had violated a 2012 decision of the ICJ, also known as the World Court, which drew a dividing line in favor of Nicaragua in Caribbean waters, thereby reducing the expanse of the sea belonging to Colombia. Read more

Nicaragua accused Colombia of picking cherries, saying it accepted the court’s ruling that a group of small islands were Colombian, but not the demarcation of the maritime borders in the same judgment.

The new maritime borders have increased Nicaragua’s continental shelf and economic exclusion zone in the Caribbean, giving it access to submarine oil and gas deposits, as well as fishing rights.

Colombia said on Wednesday that its ships were occasionally present in the disputed area, in accordance with international law. He argued that the ships were necessary for the preservation of the environment and other international tasks such as cooperation in actions to combat drug trafficking, Cepeda said.

Nicaragua has asked the tribunal to declare that Colombia has not complied with its 2012 ruling and must give assurances that it will no longer do the same.

Both parties will be able to respond to the other’s arguments at hearings scheduled until October 1.

The ICJ is the highest legal body of the United Nations and deals with disputes between states. It usually takes years for a judgment to be rendered in the cases it deals with, and even then the court has no way of enforcing its decisions.

Reporting by Stéphanie van den Berg; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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