Colombia and Nicaragua Embark on a Diplomatic Journey to Resolve Maritime Border Dispute

These diplomatic discussions can pave the way for cooperation, sustainable resource management, and the protection of the rights and interests of the local communities in the area, ensuring a brighter and more harmonious future for all.

Alvaro Leyva and Carlos Argüello


The Latin American Post Staff

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Leer en español: Colombia y Nicaragua emprenden viaje diplomático para resolver disputa fronteriza marítima

In a monumental diplomatic breakthrough, the governments of Colombia and Nicaragua have agreed to initiate discussions to implement the recent rulings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding their longstanding maritime border dispute. This announcement by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signifies a pivotal step towards finding a peaceful resolution to a contentious issue that has lingered for years.

The Rome Conference: A Decisive Moment

This momentous decision was reached during the 11th Italy, Latin America, and Caribbean Conference, which took place in Rome. At the conference, the Colombian Foreign Minister, Álvaro Leyva, met with Valdrack Ludwing Jaentschke Whitaker, who serves as the Minister Advisor to the President of Nicaragua for Political and International Affairs. Their purpose was to address a spectrum of bilateral matters, emphasizing the pressing need to advance discussions that ensure the fulfillment of the recent ICJ judgments.

In an official statement, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized the urgency of moving forward to guarantee compliance with the ICJ's recent rulings.

Following their conference, Minister Jaentschke Whitaker conveyed to Minister Leyva that the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, had appointed Carlos Argüello Gómez to lead this dialogue. Argüello Gómez is a distinguished lawyer and a former dean of the diplomatic corps in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He also holds the position of Nicaragua's agent at the ICJ. His role in the negotiations will be instrumental in establishing a harmonious working relationship between Colombia and Nicaragua concerning this complex matter.

Subsequently, Minister Leyva engaged in a telephone conversation with Mr. Argüello, and they concurred to commence these discussions at a location mutually agreed upon at a date to be determined. This willingness to initiate dialogue indicates both nations' commitment to resolve the dispute through diplomatic channels, promising a path toward peaceful coexistence.

Also read:Colombia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarifies that it has not expelled the Ambassador of Israel.

Preliminary Meeting with Indigenous Organizations

Before these official discussions commence, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will convene a meeting with the Indigenous Organizations, commonly called Raizales. These organizations had met with Colombian President Gustavo Petro on July 19, following the ICJ's latest ruling. The objective of this meeting is to inform them about the upcoming process. In a nod to the importance of the maritime issue, the Colombian Navy will also be invited to participate.

Among the organizations expected to attend this preliminary dialogue are the Raizal Council, Raizal Youth Organization, One Raizal Corporation, Raizal Team members, and various grassroots Raizal organizations representatives. Elizabeth Taylor Jay, the Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will oversee the coordination of this meeting. She also serves as Colombia's co-agent at the ICJ.

In July of the previous year, Colombia celebrated a significant victory when the ICJ ruled in its favor, preventing Nicaragua from extending its continental shelf beyond the 200-nautical-mile boundary that defines its maritime border with Colombia. This decision effectively concluded a decades-long dispute.

The international tribunal, headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, rejected Nicaragua's claim that the San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina archipelago belonged within its maritime borders and reaffirmed the boundaries established in November 2012. At that time, the ICJ granted sovereignty over these islands to Colombia but required Colombia to cede nearly 75,000 square kilometers of the Caribbean Sea to Nicaragua.

At the time of the ruling, Foreign Minister Leyva emphasized the importance of preserving Colombia's sovereignty and protecting the Caribbean's waters. He called for national unity, setting aside unnecessary confrontations and advocating for collaboration in defense of the Caribbean's interests.

These recent developments usher in a new chapter in the relationship between Colombia and Nicaragua, offering a diplomatic path to resolve their maritime dispute and promote regional stability. The willingness to engage in dialogue symbolizes a commitment to resolving their differences through peaceful means, marking a significant stride towards peaceful coexistence and cooperation between these two neighboring nations for the greater good.

The bilateral maritime border dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua has a long and complex history spanning several decades. It primarily centers on delimiting their territorial waters and maritime boundaries in the Caribbean Sea. These waters are crucial not only for fishing and shipping but also for protecting and utilizing valuable marine resources.

At the heart of the issue lies the sovereignty of the San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina archipelago, a point of contention between the two nations for many years. Colombia maintains that these islands are an integral part of its territory, while Nicaragua has disputed this claim, resulting in a protracted legal battle.

The International Court of Justice's (ICJ) recent rulings have offered a measure of resolution to the dispute by reaffirming the archipelago's sovereignty under Colombian jurisdiction. However, the court also mandated that Colombia cede a substantial portion of the Caribbean Sea to Nicaragua, further complicating the situation.

In light of the ICJ's verdict, Colombia and Nicaragua have expressed a desire to move forward peacefully and cooperatively. This diplomatic approach holds great promise, not only for the two nations directly involved but also for the broader region. A peaceful resolution to the maritime dispute will enhance stability, foster cooperation, and open opportunities for joint development and sustainable resource management in the Caribbean Sea.

Inclusivity and Community Concerns

Additionally, the involvement of the Indigenous Organizations, particularly the Raizales, in the upcoming discussions reflects a commitment to inclusivity and addressing the concerns of local communities affected by the dispute. Their participation ensures that the outcomes of these diplomatic efforts consider the interests of those who call the disputed region home.

In conclusion, the decision of Colombia and Nicaragua to engage in diplomatic discussions to implement the ICJ's recent rulings represents a significant step towards resolving a longstanding maritime border dispute. The willingness to negotiate and find common ground demonstrates the commitment of both nations to peaceful conflict resolution and regional stability. While challenges undoubtedly lie ahead, the prospect of a peaceful solution that respects the sovereignty and interests of all parties involved is a cause for optimism, not only for Colombia and Nicaragua but for the entire Caribbean region.

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