Nicaragua took its ongoing territorial dispute with Colombia to the United Nations Monday, calling Colombia’s recalcitrance regarding an International Court ruling a direct violation of the UN Charter.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was the first to involve the international governing body, when he delivered a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week, during a visit to the UN and the United States.
Santos’ letter was signed by Panama and Costa Rica, which joined Colombia in expressing opposition to what was referred to in the letter as Nicaragua’s “expansionist” push.
Nicaragua, however, has repeatedly rejected such a characterization, and this week delivered its own letter to the secretary and legal generals, pointing out that Colombia is acting contrary to provisions in the joint UN Charter both countries have ratified.
The dispute involves an International Court ruling made last year, declaring roughly 50,000 square miles of ocean surrounding the San Andres archipelago as part of Nicaraguan maritime territory. The islands, according to the ruling, would still be under Colombian control, but Colombia would lose out on fishing and trade activities it currently performs in the area, as well as right to any oil found in what prospectors believe is a promising piece of ocean territory.
Colombia has declared the ruling “inapplicable”, and refused to cede the territory in question.
In Nicaragua’s recent letter to the UN, the Central American country points out that Article 94 of the UN Charter, of which both countries are a part, obligates all member nations to abide by International Court rulings.
“[The United Nations] is equally affected by the noncompliance of Colombia [as the International Court is],” said Nicaragua’s representative in the Hague. “[The UN] cannot depend on a country deciding whether or not to comply with a sentence, or pretending once a sentence has been dictated that not it is necessary to negotiate.”
Colombia has yet to present any strictly legal reason why the IC ruling is flawed or invalid, and has not indicated how it would react to any UN mandate.
Nicaragua, on the other hand, is staking its claim on the authority of international law.
“We all left very clear on how delicate the situation is,” said Nicaragua’s representative in the UN, regarding her meeting with Secretary General Ki-Moon Monday. “International justice has to succeed.”