Nicaragua‘s President Daniel Ortega on July 20 accused Colombia of granting exploration permits to oil companies on Nicaraguan territory. Ortega was referring to disputed waters along the Caribbean maritime border between the two countries. The Colombian government sold permits to 80 foreign companies for 230 sites across the country last month—including in the disputed waters. A case over the dispute is still pending at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Ortega’s accusations follow a prolonged legal battle between the two countries over the maritime border. After a claim by the Nicaraguan government, the ICJ declared a 1928 treaty relating to the border between the 2 nations to be partially invalid. In the 2007 ruling, the ICJ agreed with Colombian arguments that disputes relating to the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina were not part of the Court’s jurisdiction. However, the ICJ also ruled that the rest of the border delineated by the treaty has yet to be assigned under maritime law. Ortega charges that Colombia is ignoring The Hague’s decision, calling Bogotá’s actions as part of “an expansionist policy,” and pledged a new challenge before the ICJ. (Colombia Reports, July 21)