Colombia should abide by the ruling of the International Criminal Court granting 30,000 square miles of the Caribbean sea to Nicaragua or risk isolating itself, a former Colombian presidential adviser said Monday.
According to former presidential adviser and history scholar Jorge Orlando Melo, Colombia did not get everything it had asked for, but was granted all that is necessary for the economy of the country’s islands in the region to function just fine.
“Nicaragua, in its claims, asked the recognition of its sovereignty over the islands of San Andres and Providencia, as well as the cays and islets of the archipelago. These cases are fundamental because that’s where the population lives. The court ruled in 2007 and in 2012 in favor of Colombia,” Melo told Colombia Reports.
Additionally, “the court … assigned 75% of economic sea to Nicaragua and 25% to Colombia. This was less than Colombia hoped for, but the idea to grant more than half of the sea to Colombia didn’t have much basis in maritime law,” said the scholar.
According to Melo, the new maritime border between Nicaragua and Colombia won’t affect the Colombian navy or local fishermen who have expressed fear their livelihood is in danger. “Fishing can not be done in [an area of] 200 [thousand square kilometers], but in 90 thousand square kilometers. I don’t think that really affects them. According to international standards, they can freely navigate through Nicaraguan waters … without asking permission, they just can’t fish there.”
The former presidential adviser said it would not be wise to not abide by the court ruling.
“It is in our own benefit to accept the verdict that has given us definitive title to sovereignty over the islands and the islets. Not accepting the verdict confirming that sovereignty is against our interests,” said the scholar.
Moreover, “Colombia has announced on each occasion that it will respect the court’s ruling. [Former] President [Alvaro] Uribe himself told the president of Nicaragua so personally. Countries, like people, must keep their word. If not, its respectability is in crisis. Colombia has always been a country that respects international law.”
“If we don’t accept the verdict, all international systems will support Nicaragua. The court is the judicial branch of the United Nations. Nicaragua will be able to sue Colombia before the United Nations saying that Colombia rejects a legal decision made by the United Nations,” said Melo.
Instead of talking about rejecting the ICJ’s decision, Colombia “should be doing what is should have been doing long time ago; create an integrated island policy, to strengthen the native communities, and not turn them into servants of a development based on the economic interests of the mainland.”
The Colombian government has so far protested the court’s decision, but has not made statements about the possibility of not abiding to the ruling.