Peru Argues its Case Over Maritime Border Dispute at The Hague

Peru, led by Allan Wagner, began its oral arguments in a maritime border dispute with Chile at the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Monday, arguing against Chile’s claim that treaties signed in the 1950s are proof of its claims to the contested area.

Tullio Treves, a member of Peru’s legal team, said the treaties, signed in 1952 and 1954, were aimed at preventing foreign fishing boats from overfishing the area.

“Neither of them, nor in their combination, constitute a maritime border treaty,” Treves said, according to Peru’s state news agency Andina.

“At the moment of signing them, that one of the parties would accept a border so clearly unfavorable for its interests… is something that wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Peru filed its complaint at the ICJ in January 2008.

The dispute dates back to the 1879 – 1883 War of the Pacific, in which Peru and Bolivia lost substantial territory to Chile. Central to the current row is 38,000 square kilometers, or about 14,500 square miles, of fishing-rich sea which Chile currently controls.

Chile says the current border, which runs parallel to the Equator, was established under the two agreements from the 1950s, which Peru claims were fishing treaties and that the maritime zone has never been settled.

Peru’s proposed border follows the countries’ south-western sloping border into the ocean, with the disputed area marked in dark blue in the map below.

Peruvian Foreign Relations Minister Rafael Roncagliolo said he was pleased with Peru’s opening arguments.

“The Peruvian position is clear. There doesn’t exist any maritime border between Peru and Chile, and this has been at the heart of the presentations that we’ve made,” he said. “This case will be resolved with strictly legal criteria.”

Chile is to make its presentation on December 6-7, which will be followed by a second presentation by Peru next Tuesday and another presentation by Chile.

The Peruvian legal team is led by ambassador and attorney Allan Wagner,  who served as Defense Minister in the Fujimori administration and as Minister of Foreign Relations in both the Toledo and Garcia administrations.  He has been in charge of the Peruvian legal team at The Hague since the claim was filed in 2008.

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