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ARGENTINA | 29-08-2023 16:21

Tension between Argentina, Chile over territorial waters claim

Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires files complaint with Santiago after Chilean Navy issues map claiming jurisdiction over Argentine waters.

The governments of Alberto Fernández and Gabriel Boric are at loggerheads after a Chilean Navy map controversially claimed jurisdiction over a section of Argentina's territorial waters. 

Issuing a formal note of protest, Argentina’s Foreign Ministry has demanded a correction to appropriated waters depicted in a “Chilean Jurisdiction Illustration Graph” map as their own.

The graphic sparking controversy was published by the Chilean Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service on August 23, 2023. It includes the projection of the claimed Chilean continental shelf with a sector of the Argentine continental shelf, an area of some 5,000 square kilometres to the south of the Drake Sea and the Cape Horn islands. 

Twenty-four hours after its publication, Argentina’s under-secretary for Latin American Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Gabriel Fuks, submitted a note of protest to the Chile’s Ambassador in Buenos Aires Bárbara Figueroa, objecting to the new map marking the region south of Tierra del Fuego as their own.

Tensions over maritime territory between the two nations is nothing new. Both Argentina and Chile seek guaranteed access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, as well as the Antarctic.

In 2009, Argentina presented new maps before the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), which shows the limits of its continental shelf, in full compliance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1984 Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

Government sources in Buenos Aires assured that said treaty “permanently and unshakably settled all maritime controversies between both states. Hence, the Chilean claim contradicts the letter and spirit of said Treaty.”

Former Chile president Sebastián Piñera published in his nation’s Official Gazette in August 2021 a decree setting the Chilean shelf 200 nautical miles of the Diego Ramírez Islands, south of Cape Horn. 

Argentina’s proposal was to draw a straight line south of the Beagle Channel to be given the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, leaving the Chileans the Pacific Ocean, as per the bi-oceanic principle of different international treaties.

By alleging that the said bi-oceanic principle does not exist, Chile assured that their continental boundary is 200 miles further east, and thus Piñera annexed it to the Nautical Map in 2021.

Since the start of the controversy, Chile’s claim has been rejected by Alberto Fernández’s government, both at a bilateral and multilateral level, through diplomatic correspondence to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority. 

Current Chile leader Gabriel Boric and his administration has not formally responded yet, adding to the new border controversy with Chile.


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