Honduras and Nicaragua signed a historic “integration treaty” on Wednesday to define the limits of their borders in the Caribbean Sea and the controversial Gulf of Fonseca, which both countries share with El Salvador, although this is not included in the agreement.
The President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, and his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega met in the capital of Honduras, Managua, to sign the so-called “Bicentennial Integration Treaty” based on the decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“By signing this treaty, Nicaragua recognizes that its maritime border runs in the Gulf of Fonseca with Honduras, thus ratifying the judgment passed in 1992 by the ICJ of The Hague,” said a statement from Honduras.
The heads of state and government have thus adopted the rulings issued by The Hague since 1960 on the delimitation of this area of the Pacific Ocean, which have kept Tegucigalpa, San Salvador and Managua under great tension.
“With the signing of these decrees (…) we are taking a momentous step that has to do with the demarcation of the border in the northern zone of Nicaragua with Honduras”, Ortega emphasized at the event, which was also attended by the Vice President and wife of the President, Rosario Murillo, reports the local media ‘La Prensa’.
For his part, Hernández has claimed that with this process, both countries are “leaving conflict behind” and “moving forward within the framework of the bicentenary”, “with the aim of paving the way for our people to peace and prosperity,” he celebrated.
“The Gulf of Fonseca and its inland waters up to the barrier line will continue to be recognized as a historic bay and the rights of the riparian states to use and navigate it,” have leaders claimed about the area, a source of conflict that has led to the arrests of seafarers when the borders between countries have been crossed.
The Honduran President emphasized that under the treaty the government of El Salvador was invited to join it “warmly and respectfully” and thus to defend a union between the Central American countries for their “benefit”.
The document now has to be ratified by the Nicaragua and Honduras Congresses and registered with the United Nations General Secretariat to enter into force.
This contract will be signed a few days after the parliamentary elections in both countries. In the Nicaraguan case, Ortega, on his way into his fourth term, is the clear favorite in the elections marked by the arrests of opposition leaders. In the case of Hernández, he is not expected to begin a third term in Honduras as he is not on the candidate list.