Peru v. Chile: Maritime Dispute

Currently before the International Court of Justice is a hearing between Peru and Chile regarding a maritime dispute.  Peru brought this dispute before the International Court of Justice on January 16, 2008 in order to define the maritime territorial boundary between Peru and Chile.  The territory in dispute takes place between the maritime zones in the Pacific Ocean.  The area in dispute is made up of the end points of the land border and the coasts between Chile and Peru.  The boundary dispute starts at a point on a coast called Concordia.  The country that gains sovereignty over this area in dispute will also have control over fishing in this area.

Peru brought this maritime dispute before the International Court of Justice claiming that the maritime boundary delimitation between itself and Chile has never been fixed by any treaty or otherwise.  Chile, however, contends that it has no border issues with Peru because a delimitation line has been established through trilateral treaties signed together with Peru and Ecuador in 1952 and 1954.  Furthermore, Chile cites its 1997 ratification of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was deposited with the United Nations, indicating that there is a maritime boundary between Chile and Peru.

The International Court of Justice is to deliver its judgment on this boundary delimitation on Monday January 27, 2014.

How do you think the Court will rule? Which side do you believe has the stronger argument for this issue? It seems that Chile has much more evidence to support its claims.  Do you think the Court feels the same way and will rule in favor of Chile? Or is there a possibility that Peru will be able to win this dispute and ultimately gain sovereignty to this area?  Are there real benefits to gain by claiming sovereignty over this area?

Picture: Yahoo

Source: ICJ

Source: ICJ


  1. This complex case is very interesting in that Peru and Chile believe they are in possession of the maritime zone through past treaties and ignoring the issue has led to this case before the International Court of Justice. To me, by simply looking at the map, it appears that the disputed zone belongs to Chile based on the two country’s territorial borders. I also agree with Mr. Choi in that Chile has more supporting evidence that points to their claim on the maritime zone.

    I think that the decision will have an effect on the two countries. While the zone is relatively small in comparison to the maritime zones Chile already has rights to, this zone would probably mean more to Peru. Peru’s coastline is 3,362 km while Chile’s is 6,435 km. But, both Chile and Peru are involved in a large fishing industry. Since Chile is South of Peru and has mostly cold-water temperatures, the most Northern part of Chile is generally the best place to fish since the fish generally like the warmer waters. This key maritime zone may negatively impact Chile’s fishing industry.

  2. It is quite an interesting and complex case as Ms. Sullivan has stated. I believe Chile will prevail in this dispute. There is just much more support for Chile’s claims. As Ms. Sullivan has stated, just simply by looking at the map, it would appear that the area in dispute does in fact belong to Chile. Therefore, if the International Court of Justice were to take into account maps, Chile would have the stronger argument. Furthermore, Chile has the treaties on its side to further strengthen its claims.

    I also think one of the main reasons Peru brought this dispute before the International Court of Justice is because it wants control over the fishing waters. As Ms. Sullivan notes, this decision will have an effect on the two countries. If Peru wins this dispute, not only will it have more territory but it will gain control over this area for fishing. This will be a huge gain. Peru has more to gain than to lose from winning this dispute. The outcome of this dispute will have very real consequences on both countries.

  3. We need to clarify the situation of Peru against other countries, with Equador on top of Peru, they face the same problem over sea sovereign, and Peru doesn’t seem to care at all.

  4. Comments that “looking at the map”/”based on terrestrial border” supports Chile’s claim don’t hold up if you look at a real map: very large scale maps don’t reveal where the actual border lies, which is where the coastline has already veered towards a NW/SE diagonal, never mind that even if it was set at the ‘junction’ between a N/S coastline and a NW/SE coastline, the maritime border would normally follow a diagonal ‘median’ between the two vectors.

    Chile’s claim is in fact based on specific treaties which go beyond general guidelines for maritime borders based on the terrestrial border. Part of the conflict in fact was not over a mutual territorial dispute, but over a triangular area that Peru claimed as EEZ but Chile simply didn’t recognize (without claiming as it’s own EEZ, i.e. considered it ‘high seas’). Chile simply never had a strong argument against Peru there.

    I am curious to find out the derivation of the 80 mile limit, it doesn’t seem to be explained in any open sources I can find.

    Assuming it’s somewhat “made up”, the ruling does seem to be in line with the previous ruling on Nicaragua/Colombia… Namely, not extending inequitable historic treaties thru current norms (applying EEZ per standard guidelines, treating strange treaty terms as equivalent to the generic case EEZ guidelines envisioned), but aiming to achieve modern norms of fairness by adjudicating modern notions (e.g. EEZ) with a more fluid relation to the specific historic treaties in question. EEZ guidelines are guidelines for a reason, after all.

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