UN court rules Colombia has sovereignty over islands claimed by Nicaragua

View of the bench during the delivery of the ICJ Judgment in the case of the Territorial and Maritime Dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia. UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/ANP-in-Opdracht/ Frank van Beek

19 November 2012 – The principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), today ruled that Colombia, and not Nicaragua, has sovereignty over seven disputed islands in the Caribbean Sea.

In its judgement, which is final and binding, the Court found that Roncador, Quitasueño, Serrana, Serranilla, Bajo Nuevo, Cayo Bolivar and Alburquerque belonged to Colombia.

The long-running territorial and maritime dispute between the two countries, first brought before the ICJ in 2001, also concerned the maritime delimitation between them.

As part of today’s ruling, the Court – which is based in The Hague – proceeded to delimit the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones of Nicaragua and Colombia in the area lying 200 nautical miles off the Nicaraguan coasts.

In a 2007 judgment, the ICJ had already held that it had no jurisdiction with regard to Nicaragua’s claim to sovereignty over the islands of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, because this question had been determined by a 1928 treaty by which Nicaragua recognized Colombian sovereignty over these islands.

Established in 1945 under the UN Charter, the ICJ – sometimes referred to as the World Court – settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by authorized UN organs or specialized agencies.


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UN court rules disputed islands in Caribbean Sea belong to Colombia

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