Cascon Case NIH: Nicaragua-Honduras 1957-60

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Status Quo Side: Honduras

Non-Status Quo Side: Nicaragua

Region: Western Hemisphere

Conflict Type: Interstate

Issues in Dispute: Territory

Phase 1: 1912

The border between Honduras and Nicaragua in the area known as the Mosquito Coast had been in dispute since a 1906 arbitral award was challenged by Nicaragua in 1912. Subsequent attempts at resolution failed. After Honduras created a new state, Gracias a Dios, in the border region, Nicaragua in 1957 claimed that some Nicaraguan territory had been included.

Phase 2: 4/19/1957

50 Nicaraguan national guardsmen occupied Mocoron in the area claimed by both sides. On April 25 Honduras recalled its Ambassador and protested to the OAS.

Phase 3: 5/3/1957

Five Honduran planes reportedly bombed Mocoron just prior to a cease-fire declaration pending OAS investigation. On May 4 Nicaragua charged further bombing and strafing. On May 8 Honduras charged a Nicaraguan attack in the Cifuentes region 150 miles to the southwest, also in the disputed area.

Phase 4: 5/7/1957

An OAS plea for troop withdrawal was accepted. Both sides were persuaded to seek an ICJ judgment.

Settled: 1960

The ICJ upheld the original arbitral award. Subsequently, the boundary was demarcated through OAS-sponsored good offices.

Subsequent developments:

Four decades later a new dispute broke out that threatened the post Cold War gains made in impoverished Central America. In 1986 the Caribbean Sea Maritime Limits Treaty granted Honduras (and Columbia) a swath of resource-rich Atlantic waters that was claimed by Nicaragua. The earlier conflict left a legacy of bitterness in Managua. In early 2000, as the two small armed forces maneuvered, rumors of war began to be heard. Nicaragua sought relief from the World Court while the OAS sent special envoy Luigi Einaudi to the region.

Cascon Home Copyright 2000 Lincoln P. Bloomfield and Allen Moulton