Colombia-Nicaragua ICJ Case Tests Region's Crisis Resolution Mechanisms

By Michael Shifter, Cameron Combs, on , Briefing

Latin America prides itself on being a peaceful region -- and with good reason. There has not been a military conflict between states for many years, and peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government may finally end the hemisphere’s only ongoing internal armed conflict. No other area of the developing world can boast such a record.

It is surprising, then, that border disputes continually bedevil the region. Many of these tensions remain unresolved, and when they surface, as in the example of the Nov. 19 ruling by the International Court of Justice on the case between Colombia and Nicaragua, there can be huge, often unexpected, ramifications. In this case, originally presented by Nicaragua in 2001, the court decided that the contested Caribbean islands making up the San Andrés archipelago belong to Colombia. But the court went on to greatly expand Nicaragua’s maritime rights around the islands. ...

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