GUERRA DEL PACÍFICO, Spanish for War of the Pacific. The dispute was over territories bordering the three countries involved: Peru with Chile over the Pacific Coast and Bolivia with Chile over the Atacama Desert. Battling over control and mineral resources in the late 1900s. The air between the Southern regions of Latin America has been tense ever since. .
In 1873, Peru and Bolivia shook hands on an agreement to take stance against their common rival. Situations worsened when Peru nationalised mineral mines in Tarapaca and Bolivia raised tax on Chilean companies in 1879. Outraged, Chile took an offence and occupied the Chilean-Bolivian borders of Antofagasta in April 5th of that year, declaring war on both Bolivia and Peru.
By the 1930, the three states had found common grounds to settle on. Chile having had the upper hand during the war had signed treaties with both countries. The Treaty of Ancon signed with Peru allowed equal ownership without reservation over regions in the Pacific Coast and the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Bolivia, delimiting the boundaries between the two nations. For a while it seemed that the three countries were to live together in harmony.
Beginning at a point on the coast called Concordia, with the maritime border of 38,000 square kilometres worth of fishing-riches, bound by the Treaty of 1929 between two former rival South American states. After decades of consenting to the settlement, Peru requests the International Court of Justice to “exercise [its] exclusive sovereign rights” in regards to its entitlement to the maritime borders in 2008. Nonetheless, it is very unlikely for a war to erupt any time soon taking into consideration that the countries have built an optimistic diplomatic relationship ever since last centurie’s mutual agreement.
ICJ and it’s role in this issue
One of the fundamental six branches of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice was founded in the summer of 1945. With its headquarters set-up in The Hague (Netherlands) this UN organ has the responsibility to settle and advice any occurring legal disputes between countries across the globe.
Since January 2008, court hearings have been taking place in the ICJ. Aware of the situation and conscientious about its decisions, the court has declared its acknowledgment that “the maritime zone lying within 200 nautical miles of Peru’s coast”. However, the fact that Peru had brought attention to this point after 50 years of previously agreeing to these adjustments brings rise in the nation’s “inconsistency”- reports the ICJ press- and it’s intentions of manufacturing a dispute where none should have taken in the first place.
In the mean time, Chile refuses to step down, exclaiming that the “ respective maritime zone entitlements of Chile and Peru have been fully delimited by agreement”. An agreement that both nations have willingly consented to.
It has been almost a year since and the final hearing to settle the Chilean-Peru dispute had not yet been resolved. It looks like the UN branch is hesitant to make a final decision about the disagreement. Let’s hope that these time a common ground is reached before the situation gets out of hand.
By: Shahd Elshafei
Photo by: Aya Nassif