May 4, 2011
South American neighbors Peru and Ecuador signed an historic agreement yesterday, setting the maritime border between both countries after over 120 years in dispute. This new accord supersedes previous maritime treaties between the two countries signed in 1952 and 1954. The agreement, approved by President Alan García and foreign minister José Antonio García Belaunde of Peru and their counterparts President Rafael Correa and Ricardo Patiño of Ecuador, now heads to the legislative branches of both countries. The treaty is expected to be ratified easily.
The new agreement, which both countries see as a positive step toward future cooperation, establishes the maritime border between the Andean neighbors on a perfectly horizontal line extending into the Pacific from the point where both countries meet on the Pacific Coast at Boca de Capones. Any islands to the north of the line would belong to Ecuador while Peru retains governance over islands to the south. In a sign of mutual accord, both countries are sending the agreement to the United Nations for recognition across all UN bodies and organizations.
The agreement leaves Chile alone in its dispute with Peru over their maritime border. By setting their bilateral maritime border, Ecuador and Peru relegate the previous treaties—signed by Ecuador, Peru and Chile in the 1950s—to little more than fishing agreements, thus bolstering Peru’s claims as presented to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in January 2008. While Chile had hoped Ecuador would side to uphold the treaties of 1952 and 1954, and their maritime border implications, the new agreement between Ecuador and Peru effectively removes Ecuador from the dispute altogether leaving Chile to plead its case alone. The ICJ is not expected to have a ruling on the dispute between Chile and Peru until 2013.