Resolving the militarised territorial dispute between Ecuador and Peru


A return to armed conflict on the volatile border was prevented and the territorial dispute that had caused so many wars over the centuries was resolved.

The accords signed in Brasilia and Montevideo in 1995 stopped the fighting between Ecuador and Peru, yet several fatal clashes occurred in the ensuing months and the territorial dispute remained unresolved. The accords did, however, establish mechanisms to prevent a return to conflict until a political solution to the dispute could be found. The Military Observer Mission for Ecuador and Peru (MOMEP) was the product of the Itamaraty Declaration and could have been on the ground immediately thanks to the logistical capabilities of the US military, which led the operation. However, breaches of the ceasefire delayed the arrival of the 112 observers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the USA until 12 March 1995.1 MOMEP worked to verify compliance with the ceasefire, monitoring the withdrawal of 3,000 Ecuadorian and 2,000 Peruvian combatants through difficult jungle terrain. MOMEP also facilitated the negotiations which concluded with the establishment of the demilitarised zone stipulated in the Itamaraty Declaration on 1 August 1995.2 Implementation was largely successful; however, the dispute did threaten to escalate again when both states invested heavily in strengthening their armed forces, increasing tensions in the region.3 MOMEP remained in place until May 1997, during which time it continued to verify the ceasefire and hold meetings and joint patrols with personnel from both countries.4

While MOMEP addressed the military aspects of consolidating the peace, representatives from the Guarantors mediated negotiations between the belligerents. In November 1997, the parties agreed to a timetable for further talks and, in January 1998, established four binational commissions to develop solutions to the main impasses in the peace process, including the demarcation of the border.5 By May, most of the issues had been resolved according to the recommendations of the commissions, allowing the leaders of Ecuador and Peru to sign the Presidential Act of Brasilia .6 The Act included a legal declaration to reject the use of war and violence against each other and formally resolved the long-standing territorial dispute. One point of contention regarding navigation rights on the Amazon remained unresolved, but both governments committed to addressing it peacefully.

1 Kevin M. Higgins. Military Observer Mission Ecuador-Peru (MOMEP): Doing A Lot With a Little. (Monterey: Naval Postgraduate School, 1999) p.8

2 Joseph L. Homza. “Special Operators: A Key Ingredient for Successful Peacekeeping Operations Management.” Low Intensity Conflict & Law Enforcement, Vol. 12, No. 1. (2004) pp.101-2

3 Simms. “Territorial Disputes and Their Resolution.” p.13-4

4 Higgins. Military Observer Mission Ecuador-Peru (MOMEP). pp.9-10

5 Simms. “Territorial Disputes and Their Resolution.” pp.15-6

6 Presidential Act of Brasilia, 1998. Available at: (Accessed 03/12/2020)

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UN Regional Group

Latin America and the Caribbean

Type of Conflict

Risk of an interstate conflict

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Monitoring, observation, political, and verification missions, Resolution of a militarised territorial dispute

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Military Observer Mission for Ecuador and Peru and the Guarantors of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol




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