Colombian President Gustavo Petro. EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda/File

Colombia’s Petro hails victory over Nicaragua in World Court

Bogota, Jul 13 (EFE).- Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro celebrated Thursday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Nicaragua’s bid to extend its exclusive economic zone into the waters surrounding Colombian islands in the Caribbean.

Nicaragua's representative before the International Court of Justice, Carlos Argüello. EFE/Mario Lopez/File

“Great victory for Colombia in The Hague. The ICJ did not accede to Nicaragua’s attempt to expand its continental platform,” he wrote on Twitter ahead of an expected visit to the San Andres archipelago, which lies 220 km (140 mi) from the coast of the Central American nation.

The archipelago, which includes the islands of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina, and seven islets, is located 775 km (480 mi) from mainland Colombia.

By a vote of 13-4, the ICJ rejected Managua’s suit contending that Nicaragua’s exclusive economic zone should extend beyond the usual 200 nautical miles because the country’s continental shelf protrudes farther into the Caribbean.

The sought-after extension would have overlapped with the territorial waters of mainland Colombia.

“Irrespective of any scientific and technical considerations, Nicaragua is not entitled to an extended continental shelf within 200 nautical miles from the baselines of Colombia’s mainland coast,” ICJ presiding Judge Joan Donoghue said while delivering the verdict.

In a 2012 decision, the ICJ confirmed Bogota’s claim to the Caribbean archipelago while recognizing Nicaraguan jurisdiction over the surrounding waters beyond 12 mi (19 km) from the shore, an expanse of 75,000 sq km (28,957 sq mi) that contains still-unquantified reserves of oil and natural gas.

Colombia responded to the 2012 decision by withdrawing from the pact giving the ICJ authority over boundary disputes and amid unsuccessful talks with Managua on a settlement, Bogota continued issuing permits for fishing in Nicaraguan waters, a practice the World Court condemned last year.

The Colombian president suggested that Thursday’s judgment should mark an end to the long-running controversy.

“We hope with this ruling to close the boundary dispute and devote ourselves to bringing sustainable development to our archipelago,” Petro tweeted.

Despite the ICJ’s ruling in favor of Colombia, Managua’s representative in the case said that the outcome was not negative for Nicaragua.

“We have come out fine,” Carlos Argüello told Nicaraguan media by telephone from The Hague.

The important thing, he said, “is that our right granted by the 2012 ruling, which Colombia disputed from the first moment, has been confirmed, so in that sense we have come out fine.”

“Nicaragua’s 200 nautical miles are indisputable. How far our rights go is now clearly reaffirmed,” Argüello said.

EFE ime-mg/dr