The the highest judicial body of the United Nations rejected today her appeal of Nicaragua in which it sought to redefine and extend beyond the previously established limit its rights in a maritime zone rich in fish and oil, in its latest – pending – legal dispute with Colombia for the delineation of their maritime borders.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague announced that it “rejects” Nicaragua’s requests. The country was contesting a 2012 ICJ ruling that granted Nicaragua a large part of that maritime zone but gave seven islets to Colombia.

In 2013, Nicaragua again appealed to the ICC to recognize that its exclusive economic zone extends beyond 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its coast, citing customary law. Managua argued that its territory should follow the boundaries of the continental shelf extending underwater from its shores. Bogotá, for its part, objected, arguing that such an arrangement would overlap the zone in which the small archipelago it owns is located.

In 2022, the UN ordered the Colombian navy to stop intervening in Nicaraguan territorial waters.

“In this case, maritime zones with a very rich ecosystem, natural beauty, fisheries and natural resources” such as oil and natural gas are being claimed, explained Nicolas Boeglin, professor of international law at the University of Costa Rica.

The two sides have been clashing at the Hague Court since last December, with Colombia accusing Nicaragua of “excessive” demands, unprecedented in the institution’s history. According to Colombia, Nicaragua “has not proven by scientific means that there is a continental shelf” that extends beyond 200 nautical miles.

Nicaragua, on the other hand, accused Colombia of threatening “ocean security”.

It should be noted that the two countries have no land borders, but only sea borders, which have been a source of tension for almost a century.

Managua appealed to the ICC in 2001 and won in 2012 several tens of thousands of square kilometers of an EEZ previously under Bogotá’s control. At the same time, however, the DD recognized Colombia’s sovereignty over the archipelago of Providencia, San Andres and Santa Catalina.

The decision was seen as an affront to Colombia, which, outraged, immediately announced that it no longer recognized the jurisdiction of the ICJ over border disputes.

Nicaragua appealed again in 2013 to The Hague, arguing that Colombia was violating the court’s rulings.

The ICJ, based in The Hague, was established in 1946 to settle disputes between states. Its decisions are binding and not subject to appeal, but the court has no way to enforce them.