Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 21 Nicaragua v. Colombia (Judgment of the International Court of Justice, 19 November 2012)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
The case described in this chapter was over a dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over title to territory and maritime boundary delimitation in the Caribbean Sea. The dispute combined land sovereignty and maritime delimitation aspects. Nicaragua and Colombia had long attempted to settle their dispute in the Caribbean Sea. This case, the chapter argues, is significant both for its endorsement of the three-stage methodology normally applied by courts and tribunals in modern maritime delimitation disputes and for the peculiarities of the application of that methodology to the unusual geographical context with which the court was faced. The court adopted a resolute promotion of the three-stage methodology (equidistance/relevant circumstances/disproportionality test) in circumstances where the appropriateness of that methodology was, perhaps, not readily apparent. In doing so, the court confirmed the primacy of that three-stage methodology in modern international law.