|The islands are still Colombian, but not much of the sea is.|
The decision is certainly unfortunate for the people of the San Andres archipelago, who's fishing opportunities have been drastically reduced. But, to a layman like myself, the ruling does seem reasonable. After all, Nicaragua's coast is much, much longer than the islands', so doesn't it make sense for Nicaragua to get a corresponding lion's share of the nearby waters? Colombia, remember, has lots of territorial waters off of its Pacific and Atlantic coasts. And the court DID reaffirm Colombia's sovereignety over the keys (tiny islands), which had received all the attention before the ruling. A phyrric victory is still a victory.
|Colombia's territorial waters |
before the court ruling.
(Image from Wikipedia)
But Colombia's attitude is shortsighted and self-destructive for a more fundamental reason. Historically, Colombia has consistantly and creditable respected the decisions of international bodies, even when they denounced Colombia's record on human rights violations. That attitude has undoubtedly earned Colombia respect among international observers. And it's a way of banking moral credits for the day when international tribunals favor Colombia against another country. Then, Colombia can say:
'Look, we honored the decision when it went against us, so it's your responsibility to respect this decision that's unfavorable to you.'
Or, until this week Colombia could have said that.
|Colombia's dramatically reduced sea possessions. |
(Image from Nicaragua Dispatch)
By trying to reject the court's authority, Colombia is behaving like Venezuela, which has simply stormed out of international organizations which criticized its actions on human rights and other issues.
Finally, Colombia's position is futile because, as Colombian leaders have acknowledged when not grandstanding for domestic consumption, they WILL honor the court's ruling.
Colombians should step back and look at the big picture. While the sea territory change is a blow to the residents of San Andres and to national pride, on a national economic scale it's not very significant. Colombia's international image and reputation are much more important.
Colombia should also not lose sight of the fact that Nicaragua is a tiny and very poor nation with a leader who seems to be making himself into a dictator. Nicaraguans deserve a break, too.
|President Santos has condemned the International Justice Court's ruling.|