ICJ Gives Colombia an Empty Victory Over Nicaragua

by Julian Ku

Just a further quick note on the ICJ opinion yesterday (press release here)  on the long-running Colombia/Nicaragua dispute over sovereignty and control over certain Caribbean islands.  The ruling seems a mixed bag since it recognizes Colombia’s sovereignty and rejects other Nicaragua submissions.  But Nicaragua is declaring victory.

At first glance, I get nervous when courts (any courts, whether domestic or international) start adjusting lines based on “equitable considerations.” But there are no good ways to do this according to very strict legal rules. So we’ll see if this ruling sticks. Colombia is looking for another legal mechanism to resist the judgment. Not sure what that would be, but best of luck President Santos!

“Colombia strenuously rejects this aspect of the ruling,” said President Juan Manuel Santos, referring to the court’s decision.

He described the court’s decision to move the maritime border westwards as “wrong and contradictory”.

“We won’t discard any legal recourse or mechanism available under international law to defend our rights,” he said after a meeting of the Colombian cabinet.


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