Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nicaragua Files ICJ Action Against Colombia to Resolve Maritime Boundary

Nicaragua yesterday instituted proceedings against Colombia before the International Court of Justice ("ICJ"), asking the ICJ to resolve a dispute involving "the delimitation of the boundaries between, on the one hand, the continental shelf of Nicaragua beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured, and on the other hand, the continental shelf of Colombia.”

In its Application, Nicaragua asks the ICJ to determine “[t]he precise course of the maritime boundary between Nicaragua and Colombia in the areas of the continental shelf which appertain to each of them beyond the boundaries determined by the Court in its Judgment of 19 November 2012” in the case concerning the Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia).  Nicaragua also asked the ICJ to indicate “[t]he principles and rules of international law that determine the rights and duties of the two States in relation to the area of overlapping continental shelf claims and the use of its resources, pending the delimitation of the maritime boundary between them beyond 200 nautical miles from Nicaragua’s coast.”

Nicaragua states that “[t]he single maritime boundary between the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones of Nicaragua and of Colombia within the 200-nautical-mile limit from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured was defined by the Court in paragraph 251 of its Judgment of 19 November 2012.”  It also states that in that case, Nicaragua had "sought a declaration from the Court describing the course of the boundary of its continental shelf throughout the area of the overlap between its continental shelf entitlement and that of Colombia” but that “the Court considered that Nicaragua had not then established that it has a continental margin that extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which its territorial sea is measured, and that it was therefore not then in a position to delimit the continental shelf as requested by Nicaragua.”  Nicaragua contends that its “final information” submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on 24 June 2013 “demonstrates that Nicaragua’s continental margin extends more than 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured, and both (i) traverses an area that lies more than 200 nautical miles from Colombia and also (ii) partly overlaps with an area that lies within 200 nautical miles of Colombia’s coast.”

Nicaragua also said that the two States “have not agreed upon a maritime boundary between them in the area beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast of Nicaragua” and that “Colombia has objected to continental shelf claims [from other States] in that area.”

As the basis for the jurisdiction of the Court, Nicaragua invokes Article XXXI of the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement (officially known as the “Pact of Bogotá”), signed on 30 April 1948, to which “[b]oth Nicaragua and Colombia are parties.”  Nicaragua asserts that it was “constrained . . . into taking action upon this matter rather sooner than later in the form of the present application” as, “on 27 November 2012, Colombia gave notice that it denounced as of that date the Pact of Bogotá” and as, “in accordance with Article LVI of the Pact, that denunciation will take effect after one year, so that the Pact remains in force for Colombia until 27 November 2013.”

In addition, Nicaragua also submits that “the subject-matter of the . . . Application remains within the jurisdiction of the Court established in the case concerning the Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia), . . . in as much as the Court did not in its Judgment dated 19 November 2012 definitively determine the question of the delimitation of the continental shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia in the area beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan coast, which question was and remains before the Court in that case.”

The full text of Nicaragua’s Application of September 16, 2013 will shortly be available on the website of the International Court of Justice.

(mew)(adapted from an ICJ press release)

 

 

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