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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

ICJ defines Chile-Peru maritime boundary

(29 January 2014)

The International Court of Justice has set a maritime boundary between Chile and Peru, awarding Peru a larger portion of the Pacific Ocean while keeping rich fishing grounds under Chilean administration. The ruling applies to approximately 14,670 square miles of disputed ocean, including some of the world’s richest fishing grounds with an annual catch value of $200 million.

The United Nations ruling granted Peru approximately 7,700 square miles and exclusive rights to resources in a further 10,800 square miles of international waters. The court agreed in a 15-1 vote that the initial segment of the boundary will be an 80 mile-long line, beginning at the city of Arica, on the Chile-Peru border, and running parallel to the equator. From the 80-mile point, the line will proceed southwest for 120 miles, segmenting Peru’s and Chile’s exclusive economic zone (EEZs).

Both states have committed themselves to abide by the verdict, and it is hoped that the settlement of this long-running dispute will strengthen ties between the two economies, whose bilateral trade reached $3 billion in 2013.

Although Mario Artaza, a former Chilean Foreign Ministry official and diplomat, said the ruling “offers the opportunity to begin a new stage in our relationship,” Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera declared the decision “a lamentable loss” for his nation. Chilean President-elect Michelle Bachelet stated that she “regretted” what she called a “painful loss” for her country, promising to “implement the ruling gradually”.

Contrarily, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala affirmed that “Peru is pleased with the outcome” and would “take the required actions and measures for its prompt implementation”.

In 2008, Peru requested that the International Court of Justice review the maritime boundary, claiming that the current border was not legally established. In opposition, Chile maintained that the border had been clearly defined by treaties signed by Chile, Peru and Ecuador in 1952 and 1954. 

The border dispute dates back to the War of the Pacific, from 1879 to 1883. Chile emerged from that war as the victor, conquering Peruvian and Bolivian territory and leaving Bolivia without a coastline. In 1882, Chile and Peru signed a peace treaty, but their land boundary was not established until 1929. The maritime border was never fully defined and has remained a topic of contention for decades.

Sources 

“Peru wins maritime border dispute with Chile over key fishing grounds”, Adriana Leon and Chris Kraul, LA Times, 27th January 2014. http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-peru-territorial-dispute-chile-20140127,0,7509040.story#axzz2rmcVYJRY.

“Court grants Peru ocean territory claimed by Chile”, Pascale Bonnefoy, New York Times, 27th January 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/world/americas/court-grants-peru-ocean-territory-claimed-by-chile.html.

“Hague border verdict set to strengthen Chile, Peru ties”, Thomas Escritt and Rosalba O’Brien, Reuters, 27th January 2014. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/27/uk-chile-peru-court-idUKBREA0Q1EZ20140127.

“Update 3: Hague border verdict set to strengthen Chile, Peru ties”, Reuters, 27th January 2014. http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/01/27/chile-peru-court-idINL5N0L131G20140127

“Judges confirm Chile’s control of fishing grounds contested by Peru”, Reuters, 27th January 2014. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/27/uk-chile-peru-court-idUKBREA0Q15Z20140127.

“Peru gets more ocean, Chile keeps fishing grounds”, Associated Press, Washington Post, 28th January 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/world-court-draws-new-peru-chile-maritime-border/2014/01/27/4e0c78c0-8791-11e3-a760-a86415d0944d_story.html.

“Peru-Chile border defined by UN court at The Hague”, BBC News, 28th January 2014. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25911867.

“Chile-Peru: Moving on from the past”, Gideon Long, BBC News, 28th January 2014. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25924381.