By Lynda Williamson

Tensions between Colombia and Nicaragua have heightened following publication of the International Court of Justice ruling on their historical dispute over maritime borders.

Following the signing of the treaty of Barcenas Meneses Esguerra on March 24th 1928, the maritime border between the two countries was established as 82nd meridian which lies less than 70 miles from the Nicaraguan coast.  The islets of San Andres and the Providencia Archipelago, which are now home to some 80,000 inhabitants, were also ceded to Colombia.

The Nicaraguans disputed the legality of the treaty as it was signed while they were under US occupation and took their case to the ICJ in 2001.

A tribunal, made up of judges chosen by the UN security council, took 11 years to reach the conclusion that the treaty was indeed invalid.  They have ruled that it breached international regulations giving countries control over the area of sea that lies within 200 nautical miles (230 miles) of their shores.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, effectively returns an area of 30,000 square miles to Nicaraguan control.  The territory is thought to contain under water oil deposits as well as its lucrative fishing grounds.

While the court confirmed Colombia's sovereignty over San Andres and Providencia, the Colombians reacted with fury.

On the 28th of November President Juan Manuel Santos pulled the country out of the Pact of Bogata, an agreement which guarantees peaceful settlement of territorial disputes through the ICJ.   He argued that territorial and maritime disputes should be settled through treaty rather than courts.

Ironically, the treaty of Bogata was signed and ratified in Colombia's capital in 1948.

After the ruling both countries established a heavy military presence in the disputed area but today President Santos met with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Mexico City in an effort to establish lines of communication.  President Santos agreed with President Ortega about the need to avoid “incidents”, stating that

“Nobody wants a warlike confrontation – that is the last recourse.  The way to fix situations like this is through common sense talks in which positions are established and clearly stated”

He also stressed that his country would continue to use “every means available to defend the rights of Colombians”

The Nicaraguan Government website, El 19, today reported that President Ortega had assured President Santos that Nicaragua will respect the fishing rights of the inhabitants of San Andres and Providencia as Nicaragua is dedicated to peace.

He is reported to have offered to work closely with his Colombian counterpart to “overcome any obstacles”


# proudscot 2012-12-04 10:48
I wonder how the International Court of Justice will judge the Blair Labour Government's unjustified transfer of 6000 square miles of Scottish seabed, when they arbitrarily altered the maritime border in England's favour?
# UpSpake 2012-12-04 12:28
Proudscot. Englands territorial waters don't extend to Carnoustie as the designated area (the 6000 sq miles) that was stolen by Labour - Henry McLeish in 1999 in that sneakiest of moves the night before our Parliament was re-constituted.
Now, with a majority administration and the fact that England underdeclares our income by allocating revenues from the stolen area to their own account, time to stand up and bite.
Nothing whatsoever to stop the Scots government taking back our waters and while they are at it, sorting out the anomily that is Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
# robbo 2012-12-04 12:39
The 1999 border is compliant with international standards and what's we'd get if independent. So i don't really see what's being "stolen".
# pictic-1 2012-12-04 14:11
Quoting robbo:
The 1999 border is compliant with international standards and what's we'd get if independent. So i don't really see what's being "stolen".

Are you saying that the border up to 1999 was compliant with international standards and that is what we would get (back)???


Are you saying that the border from 1999 was compliant with international standards and we won't get it back??
# robbo 2012-12-04 15:02
I don't think there's much chance of us getting it back as it is compliant with the median line thing. As of now the border is fairly irrelevant as England/Scotland are not sovereign states and the tax all goes to the to the UK government anyway. So nothing is being "stolen", it's just numbers on an excel sheet.

To the rather rude person below: Who said anything about correct, i said i think that is what would be agreed. What i think will be agreed is a border based upon the UN equidistant theory. As it is (A) the currently accepted border and (B) in line with typical UN resolution practises i don't think it is likely to change.
# xyz 2012-12-04 19:38
I am very glad you will have no say in the boundary issue. If you believe that the boundary claimed in favour of England in 1999 is the correct boundary then why do you not just also come out and admit you support London rule over Scotland?
# Old Smokey 2012-12-04 17:25
I would be very interested to hear what 'international standards' you refer to.
Fact is the 1999 amendement to the maritime border will become illegal in the event of Scotland ending the union. Blair got away with it under the 'technical'aspects of defining fishing grounds within one state, namely the United Kingdom. But if he had tried that as two seperate independent states. Then he would have not got away with it as it would have been deemed illegal. The defination of international coastline is very clear in that it is 200 miles from the coast at low water mark (the exception for Scotland would be the Continental Shelf which has claim and shares with Norway to an agreed meridian point between Scotland and Norway. Where 2 countries share a coast, the traditional and accepted line is that running parallel to the latitude. It quite idiotic to think that a near veritical border is acceptable as it infringes on the existing Territorial waters of Scotland
# Am Fògarrach 2012-12-05 18:30
'Old Smokey'is absolutely correct. The whole sordid story is available at
# James 2012-12-05 19:25
Robbo, for centuries the Scotland/England marine border has been the parallel of latitude running east from Berwick till it meets the border of the Dutch EEZ at the median line. That line was registered with the United Nations in 1968 under the Law of the Sea legislation.

The 1999 changes were made by an arbitrary Order in Council in a flagrant attempt to shift 12 oil wells into the English sector, and is certainly not an internationally recognised settlement. If you read Hansard you will see that the Order applies only to fisheries, and that the area remains Scottish for all other purposes like oil, gas and minerals. You can read the Hansard extracts and the rest of the story at: .../11.07.08%20TNBS.pdf

The Scotland/England land border from the Solway Firth to the mouth of the Tweed has existed for 800 years, and at no time has Berwick ever been transferred to England.
# Am Fògarrach 2012-12-05 08:03
Thanks, UpSpake.
The whole sordid story of this egregious theft by the UK government can be read at .../11.07.08%20TNBS.pdf.
# jinglyjangly 2012-12-04 17:29
for people who are confused as to what borders are reffered to read this
excellant blog on the subject by Craig
# James 2012-12-05 20:32
Craig Murray's comment is very good but not comprehensive. it is well worth reading. Several of the comments on it refer to the extensive SDA documentation mentioned by Am Fogarrach.
# Henry 2012-12-06 10:53
The acts of Union ceded political control to Westminster. If the Union is dissolved then territorial control/sovereignty should revert to the position as it was immediately prior to Unification. I would certainly view the annexing of sea territories as theft from the sovereign people of Scotland.

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