The International Court of Justice ruled in mid November that tens of thousands of miles of Caribbean Sea that Colombia had traditionally owned belonged to Nicaragua. A week later, Colombia said it was withdrawing from a 1948 treaty that binds it to the United Nations’ body, according to a story in the Miami Herald.
“I have decided that the nation’s highest interests demand that territorial and maritime borders be established by treaties,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told a meeting of the national coffee industry, the newspaper reported, “and not by rulings of the International Court of Justice.
“Never again should we have to face what happened to us on Nov. 19,” he said.
Last week, the Netherlands-based ICJ ratified Colombia’s sovereignty over the San Andres Archipelago but it expanded Nicaragua’s territorial waters around the islands, the newspaper reported. The decision left two smaller uninhabited Colombian islands, Serrano and Quitasueño, in Nicaraguan waters.
The tourist haven of San Andres lies about 128 miles from Nicaragua and 455 miles from Colombia, and has been at the center of the historical dispute, which goes back to the 1800s. Nicaragua took its case to The Hague in 2001.
Colombia was expecting to lose some of its territorial waters, but experts were surprised by the amount put in play. The ruling denied Colombia an estimated 46,000 to 56,000 miles of water it has considered its own.
The biggest impact of the ruling is on the fishing industry based on the San Andres Archipelago, the Herald reported. Alain Manjarres, executive director of the San Andres Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper that most fishermen are avoiding the disputed area for fear of running across Nicaraguan patrols. He said more than 1,000 families relied on the fishing grounds that are now barred to them.