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ICJ settles Nicaragua, Honduras boundary dispute

[JURIST] The International Court of Justice [official website] issued an opinion [PDF opinion; press release] Monday resolving a maritime boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras [JURIST news archive] and granting possession of four small Caribbean islands to Honduras. Nicaragua filed the suit in 1999, claiming that no legal maritime border existed; Honduras claimed that the boundary had been determined by a 1906 arbitral award from the king of Spain. The Court found no evidence that the disputed territory had been assigned to either country upon decolonization and based the grant to Honduras on the fact that it has exercised sovereignty over the islands. At the same time, it granted more maritime territory to Nicaragua than the country had claimed. Finally, the Court ordered both countries to negotiate a specific portion of the boundary near the Coco River. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said they were satisfied with the decision and would comply with the Court's ruling. AP has more. El Nuevo Diario has local coverage from Nicaragua. La Tribuna has local coverage from Honduras.

Peruvian diplomat Hugo de Zela Hurtado welcomed the ICJ ruling as a "decisive precedent" which will bolster Peru's claim against Chile [JURIST news archive] in a similar dispute [LA Times report] that is expected to be brought before the Court in the coming months. Tensions between the two countries have escalated over a 10,000-mile strip of ocean which Peru [JURIST news archive] claims was ceded to it under 1952 and 1954 treaties; Chile claims that the treaties involved fishing rights only. Chile is expected to reject the jurisdiction of the ICJ [Andina report] in the case. El Peruano has more.

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