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Territorial and Maritime Dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)

Overview of the case

On 8 December 1999, the Republic of Nicaragua filed an Application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Honduras in respect of a dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime zones appertaining to each of those States in the Caribbean Sea.

By an Order of 21 March 2000, the Court fixed 21 March 2001 and 21 March 2002, respectively, as the time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Nicaragua and a Counter-Memorial by Honduras. Those pleadings were filed within the time-limits thus fixed.

By an Order of 13 June 2002, the Court authorized the submission of a Reply by Nicaragua and a Rejoinder by Honduras and fixed 13 January 2003 and 13 August 2003 as the respective time-limits for those pleadings. Those pleadings were filed within the time-limits thus prescribed.

Following public hearings in March 2007, the Court rendered its Judgment on 8 October 2007. In respect of sovereignty over the islands of Bobel Cay, Savanna Cay, Port Royal Cay and South Cay, located in the area in dispute, the Court concluded that it had not been established that either Honduras or Nicaragua had title to those islands by virtue of uti possidetis juris. Having then sought to identify any post-colonial effectivités, the Court found that sovereignty over the islands belonged to Honduras, as it had shown that it had applied and enforced its criminal and civil law, had regulated immigration, fisheries activities and building activity and had exercised its authority in respect of public works there. As for the delimitation of the maritime areas between the two States, the Court found that no established boundary existed along the 15th parallel on the basis of either uti possidetis juris or a tacit agreement between the Parties. It thus proceeded to determine the delimitation itself. Since it was unable to apply the equidistance method, in view of the particular geographical circumstances, the Court drew a bisector (i.e., a line formed by bisecting the angle created by the linear approximations of the coastlines) with an azimuth of 70°14′ 41.25ʺ. It adjusted the course of the line to take account of the territorial seas accorded to the aforementioned islands and to resolve the issue of overlap between those territorial seas and that of the island of Edinburgh Cay (Nicaragua) by drawing a median line. Asked to identify the starting point of the maritime boundary between Nicaragua and Honduras, the Court, taking account of the continuing eastward accretion of Cape Gracias a Dios (a territorial projection and the point where the coastal fronts of the two States meet) as a result of alluvial deposits by the River Coco, decided to fix the point on the bisector at a distance of three nautical miles out to sea from the point which a mixed demarcation commission in 1962 had identified as the endpoint of the land boundary in the mouth of the River Coco. The Court further instructed the Parties to negotiate in good faith with a view to agreeing on the course of a line between the present endpoint of the land boundary and the starting-point of the maritime boundary thus determined. In respect of the endpoint of the maritime boundary, the Court stated that the line which it had drawn continued until it reached the area where the rights of certain third States might be affected.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Written proceedings

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 2007/1

Public sitting held on Monday 5 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/2

Public sitting held on Tuesday 6 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/3

Public sitting held on Wednesday 7 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/4

Public sitting held on Thursday 8 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/5

Public sitting held on Friday 9 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/6

Public sitting held on Monday 12 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/7

Public sitting held on Tuesday 13 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/8

Public sitting held on Wednesday 14 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/9

Public sitting held on Thursday 15 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/10

Public sitting held on Friday 16 March 2007, at 10 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/11

Public sitting held on Monday 19 March 2007, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/12

Public sitting held on Tuesday 20 March 2007, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/13

Public sitting held on Thursday 22 March 2007, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2007/14

Public sitting held on Friday 23 March 2007, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Higgins presiding, in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Other documents

Orders

Order of 21 March 2000

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Order of 13 June 2002

Authorizing submission of Reply and Rejoinder; fixing of time-limits: Reply and Rejoinder
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 2007/4

Summary of the Judgment of 8 October 2007
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 1999/52

8 December 1999
Nicaragua institutes proceedings against Honduras with regard to "legal issues subsisting" between the two States "concerning maritime delimitation" in the Caribbean Sea
Available in:
English French

Press release 2000/10

23 March 2000
Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - The Court fixes time-limits for the filing of written pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 2002/17

18 June 2002
Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Fixing of time-limits for the filing of a Reply by Nicaragua and Rejoinder by Honduras
Available in:
English French

Press release 2006/31

19 July 2006
Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Public hearings on the merits of the dispute to open on Monday 5 March 2007
Available in:
English French

Press release 2007/7

13 February 2007
Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Schedule of the public hearings which will open on Monday 5 March 2007
Available in:
English French

Press release 2007/9

23 March 2007
Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Conclusion of the public hearings; Court ready to begin its deliberation
Available in:
English French

Press release 2007/19

13 September 2007
Maritime Delimitation between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - Court to deliver its Judgment on Monday 8 October 2007 at 3 p.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 2007/23

8 October 2007
Territorial and Maritime Dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras) - The Court finds that Honduras has sovereignty over Bobel Cay, Savanna Cay, Port Royal Cay and South Cay and draws a single maritime boundary between Nicaragua and Honduras
Available in:
English French