The frontier between Ecuador and Peru has been a source of conflict for centuries, with competing claims for territory along the border going back to the sixteenth century. An eruption of violence in 1941 was ended with the signing of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol.1 The Protocol, mediated by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the USA, established the four states as Guarantors. Efforts to implement the territorial provisions of the Protocol revealed cartographic errors which, the Government of Ecuador argued, nullified the agreement.2 In 1981, another border clash led to an extensive military build-up in the region. Tensions increased until the end of 1994, when a fresh series of clashes occurred. In January 1995, Ecuadorian and Peruvian armed forces were deploying thousands of troops along with the full force of their air forces and navies against each other in an interstate conflict known as the Cenepa War.3 Over 400 troops died in the fighting.
Efforts to prevent any further escalation began immediately, with the Guarantors of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol convening a meeting in Brasilia in January 1995. Following careful mediation by representatives of the Guarantors, the belligerents agreed to a ceasefire, a framework for further talks, and committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute.4 The negotiations culminated with the signing of Itamaraty Declaration on 17 February 1995.5 A predominantly military agreement, the Declaration contained stipulations about troop withdrawals and the establishment of a demilitarised zone which was to be verified by an international military observation mission. Another round of talks was held two weeks later in Uruguay, culminating in the Montevideo Declaration, where both sides reiterated their commitment to an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution to the dispute, while the Guarantors agreed to deploy the observation mission.6 Skirmishes along the border in March, May, and September 1995 threatened to derail the peace process entirely, however in February 1996, military officials from Ecuador and Peru met at the contested border (under supervision from international observers) while government representatives from each state met in Argentina, where they resolved to find a peaceful solution to conflict.7 The interstate conflict between Ecuador and Peru was over.