THE HAGUE, 3 October 2014.
By an Order of 19 September 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has fixed 19 January 2015 as the time-limit within which the Republic of Nicaragua may present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by the Republic of Colombia on 14 August 2014 in the case concerning the Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia).
The subsequent procedure has been reserved for further decision. History of the proceedings: On 16 September 2013, the Republic of Nicaragua filed an Application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Colombia relating to a “dispute concern[ing] the delimitation of the boundaries between, on the one hand, the continental shelf of Nicaragua beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured, and on the other hand, the continental shelf of Colombia”.
In its Application, Nicaragua requests the Court to “adjudge and declare . . . the precise course of the maritime boundary between Nicaragua and Colombia in the areas of the continental shelf which appertain to each of them beyond the boundaries determined by the Court in its Judgment of 19 November 2012” in the case concerning the Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia). The Applicant further requests the Court to state “[t]he principles and rules of international law that determine the rights and duties of the two States in relation to the area of overlapping continental shelf claims and the use of its resources, pending the delimitation of the maritime boundary between them beyond 200 nautical miles from Nicaragua’s coast”.
Nicaragua recalls that “the single maritime boundary between the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones of Nicaragua and of Colombia within the 200-nautical-mile limit from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured was defined by the Court in paragraph 251 of its Judgment of 19 November 2012”.- 2 –
Nicaragua further recalls that “in that case it had sought a declaration from the Court
describing the course of the boundary of its continental shelf throughout the area of the overlap between its continental shelf entitlement and that of Colombia”, but that “the Court considered that Nicaragua had not then established that it has a continental margin that extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which its territorial sea is measured, and that [the Court] was therefore not then in a position to delimit the continental shelf as requested by Nicaragua”.
Nicaragua contends that the “final information” submitted by it to the Commission on the
Limits of the Continental Shelf on 24 June 2013 “demonstrates that Nicaragua’s continental margin extends more than 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured, and both (i) traverses an area that lies more than 200 nautical miles from Colombia and also (ii) partly overlaps with an area that lies within 200 nautical miles of Colombia’s coast”. The Applicant moreover observes that the two States “have not agreed upon a maritime boundary between them in the area beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast of Nicaragua.
Further, Colombia has objected to continental shelf claims in that area”. Nicaragua bases the jurisdiction of the Court on Article XXXI of the Pact of Bogotá, to which “both Nicaragua and Colombia are Parties”. Nicaragua states that it has been “constrained
into taking action upon this matter rather sooner than later in the form of the present application” because “on 27 November 2012, Colombia gave notice that it denounced as of that date the Pact of Bogotá; and in accordance with Article LVI of the Pact, that denunciation will take effect after one year, so that the Pact remains in force for Colombia until 27 November 2013”.
In addition, Nicaragua contends that “the subject-matter of the present Application remains within the jurisdiction of the Court established in the case concerning the Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia), of which the Court was seised by the Application dated 6 December 2001, submitted by Nicaragua, in as much as the Court did not in its Judgment dated 19 November 2012 definitively determine the question of the delimitation of the continental shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia in the area beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan coast, which question was and remains before the Court in that case”.
By an Order of 9 December 2013, the Court fixed 9 December 2014 and 9 December 2015 as the respective time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Nicaragua and a Counter-Memorial by Colombia. On 14 August 2014, Colombia, referring to Article 79 of the Rules of Court, raised certain preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and to the admissibility of the Application. In accordance with Article 79, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court, the proceedings on the merits were suspended.