Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | November 29, 2012

Santos administration throws child-like tantrum after losing waters to Nicaragua

The World Court on borders ruled Colombian sovereignty over San Andres and Providencia, a Caribbean archipelago off Nicaragua, but said some waters around the islands belong to Nicaragua.

Those waters are said to hold much oil and gas deposits beneath them, and President Santos, under pressure from environmentalists, had announced a moratorium on exploratory drilling in them. After the court’s ruling, Nicaraguan officials said they would study exploration.

As a result, the Santos government has now opted to remove Colombia from the 1948 Pact of Bogota, a treaty that recognizes the World Court’s jurisdiction to resolve international disputes in general, not just territorial disputes.

Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín said it is not unusual for governments to remove themselves from the Pact of Bogota.

But departing from the Pact of Bogota essentially does nothing to change the outcome of the court’s ruling. In fact, the court’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.

Countries cannot pick and choose what parts of treaties they’ve ratified which they want to uphold.

The only thing the government’s decision accomplishes is for Colombia and the Santos administration to be viewed domestically and abroad like a child throwing a tantrum.

In hind-sight, the Colombian government’s representatives in the Hague should have paid closer attention to their homework. Colombia’s representatives in the Hague did not live there for long periods of time. On the other hand, the lawyer for Nicaragua lived in the Hague for eleven years, throughout the whole process, and was able to closely monitor the subject.

Foreign Minister Holguín said Colombia considers the court’s decision did not take into account the residents of San Andrés and Providencia who need access to the sea for their daily fishing.

Why was this not clearly articulated during the eleven years that it took for the World Court to make a decision?

President Santos reaffirmed he would only be using “peaceful means” to solve the dispute.

The court’s ruling took place on November 19, and six days later, there were reports of several Colombian military warships remaining in the waters that now belong to Nicaragua.

It is disappointing that at a time when the Santos administration is negotiating peace with the FARC, and submitting the FARC to the rule of law, the government chooses to opt out of the World Court.


  1. Colombia after many years of border disupte, agreed to submit their arguments to the ICJ, Nicaragua did the same, expecting that whatever was the court ruling were to be respected, now, after 11 years just because the ruling is not in total favour for Colombia is politically favourable for president Santos to present baseless arguments with the intention of presenting as a sovereignty defender question, what if the court ruling was entirely in favour of Colombia, the expected behaviour from the Nicaraguan government could be the same.When this type of disupte ends? we all know that in any court decision one of the parties will not be entirely satisfied, but, this is what a court ruling is all about, a decision based on 11 years of analysis and evaluation from a team of prestige magistrates with the most dignified and respected background in the world.The Colombian government exhibiting this intransigent posture will only gain the scorn from the rest of Latin american nations.

  2. Colombia (and any other country) is well within it’s rights to reject any ruling. Because the Hague has made a decision does not mean it is the correct one. Any any importance on the ruling given comes down to those placing the importance on it in the first place. Colombia are doing the right thing and should stand their ground (/water).

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