On January 27th, 2014 a territorial dispute between Chile and Peru finally had a most expected closure with the International Court of Justice -ICJ awarding Peru a triangle of Pacific Ocean territory covering thousands of square miles rich in fishing and other natural resources.
The Court ruled that Chile and Peru should split sovereignty over an area of sea off their coast, settling a dispute that stems from a war 130 years ago.
The Judges recognized the existing maritime border that runs directly west from the land border for 80 nautical miles, said the Court’s President Peter Tomka in a televised reading of the decision. After that, the new border runs south-west to a point that is 200 miles equidistant from the coast of the two countries.
In resume, Peru had asked for 38,000 sq km (23,600 sq miles) but had to settle for around 21,000 sq km. Chile gets to keep the rest, including the lucrative fishing grounds closest to its coastline. By changing the border, the Court also gave Peru an additional 28,000 sq km of sea that until now was in international waters. Under the ruling, Chile’s loses control over part of that maritime territory. Additionally, the International Court of Justice said that the maritime border should start from the same point on the coastline as it does now. Peru had wanted it moved south, further into Chilean territory.
According to the Chilean authorities the biggest impact of the Court ruling will be on the fishermen in the frontier city of Arica. Although they will be still be able to fish the waters closest to the coast, they will lose access to waters further out.
This Judgment has binding force and is without appeal for both countries.
For more information about the Maritime Dispute (Peru v. Chile) go to the ICJ Judgment of 27 January, 2014 at: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/137/17930.pdf
*Sources: International Court of Justice, Blommberg News and BBC News Latin America and the Caribbean
*Maps: Hague Justice Portal and ICJ