* International court extended Nicaragua sea border
* Experts say ruling is binding, withdrawal not retroactive
BOGOTA Nov 22 Colombia is considering
withdrawing from a treaty that forces the country to comply with
an international court ruling that grants Nicaragua jurisdiction
over Caribbean waters near a Colombian archipelago, the
government said on Thursday.
The International Court of Justice this week ruled that a
cluster of disputed small islands in the western Caribbean
belonged to Colombia and not to Nicaragua, but drew a
demarcation line in favor of Nicaragua in the nearby waters.
The court said the territorial waters extending out from the
seven islets, which are nearer Nicaragua's coast than
Colombia's, should not cut into Nicaragua's continental shelf.
The ruling reduced the expanse of ocean belonging to Colombia.
"We should act quickly and study the possibility of
withdrawing from the Bogota Pact," Foreign Minister Maria Angela
Holguin told the Colombian Congress. She said she feared
Nicaragua could file another complaint at the international
court to further extend its sea borders.
The Bogota Pact is a treaty under which signatory countries
agreed in 1948 to recognize ICJ rulings and to find peaceful
solutions to their conflicts.
However, experts told Reuters that Colombia's withdrawal
from the treaty would not have retroactive effect, and that it
would still be obliged to comply with the ruling.
"It's too late to do that ... the country will not achieve
anything because the ruling has already been issued," said Jose
Gregorio Hernandez, former head of Colombia's Constitutional
Menno Kamminga, professor of international law at Maastricht
University in the Netherlands, said that if Colombia decides to
withdraw from the court's jurisdiction, it will only affect
"The ruling can't be repudiated, because both states agreed
to the court's jurisdiction in advance," Kamminga said.
The decision, which is binding, increases the size of
Nicaragua's continental shelf and economic exclusion zone in the
Caribbean, which would give it access to underwater oil and gas
deposits as well as fishing rights.
In 2007, the court, which is based in The Hague, ruled in a
long-running dispute between the two countries that the three
larger islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina
belonged to Colombia.
The ruling on Monday related to a further seven islets and
the associated offshore rights surrounding them. The three
larger islands have been controlled by Colombia since Nicaragua
ceded them in a 1928 treaty.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected the changes
to the border, which effectively put some islands outside of the
rest of the archipelago, saying the ruling had "omissions,
mistakes, excesses, inconsistencies, that we can not accept".
The cluster of islands is more than 700 km (437 miles) from
the Colombian coast, but only 200 km (125 miles) from Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega welcomed the ruling as a
recognition of his country's rights to fishing in the area and
potential oil deposits. He criticized Santos for suggesting that
Colombia would fight the court's ruling.