Back to the ICJ: Costa Rica to sue Nicaragua over territorial sea rights

A map issued by the Nicaraguan government in July showing areas on offer for oil exploration. (Click to enlarge.)

A map issued by the Nicaraguan government in July showing areas on offer for oil exploration. (Click to enlarge.)

February 5, 2014 (AFP) – Costa Rica said Tuesday it will take Nicaragua to the International Court of Justice over what San Jose alleges is Managua’s seeking to have oil exploration work done in Costa Rican waters.

“We are working on a suit against Nicaragua for usurping and offering Costa Rican territorial seas, based on demarcation it did arbitrarily and unilaterally, to chart what it calls its oil (exploration) blocs,” said Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo.

He said the suit would be filed in the Hague before May 8, when President Laura Chinchilla’s term ends.

Castillo said San Jose would bring its concerns about the purported exploration offers to other neighboring nations in Central America.

In June 2013, Costa Rica sent a diplomatic note complaining that Nicaragua was claiming areas San Jose believes are in its territorial waters, and that Managua was promoting oil development there — both on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

Costa Rica said at the time that there were 73 separate areas where Managua was making this mistake.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega says Costa Rica’s claims are wide of the mark. He says what Nicaragua has offered for potential development are areas under its jurisdiction that the ICJ in November 2012 already clearly set out, when it defined territorial sea borders between Nicaragua and Colombia.

The neighbors have taken to the same court a dispute over the San Juan River that runs along their border. In March 2011 the court ordered both countries to stay out of the disputed area until the case is settled. Relations between the neighbors are deeply strained.

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Nicaragua insists that oil concessions in its territory, Colombia and Costa Rica disagree

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