Residents of San Andres organized a march supporting Colombia’s sovereignty of the archipelago after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) began hearing Nicaragua’s claim to the territory Monday.
Colombia has maintained control over the territory, which includes the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, since the 1928 Esguerra-Barcenas Treaty. Nicaragua has long disputed the treaty which was put into effect while the country was under U.S. military occupation.
The Hague-based court ruled in favor of Colombia’s sovereignty over the archipelago in 2007. The new hearings, which are expected to run for months, seek to determine the ownership of several smaller islands not included in the original treaty, as well as settle maritime borders in the area.
The two groupings of islands are thought to be rich in oil. Colombia’s state-owned oil company Ecopetrol began drilling on the island in 2010 before President Juan Manuel Santos suspended operations due to environmental concerns, although analysts think the move was made to avoid a political spat with the Central American country.