In 1869, James Jennett
claimed the bank for the United States under the Guano Islands Act
of 1856. In 1972 the United States and Colombia signed a treaty (ratified in 1981) that abandoned the U.S. claim to the reef. Unlike some islands included in the treaty that were ceded to Colombia, Quita Sueño Bank was regarded by the United States as having no emergent land and thus ineligible for the basis of a sovereignty claim. Rather than being ceded to any particular nation, the claim was simply abandoned with American fishing rights retained.
Colombia, which had also made previous claims on the reef, considers the bank to be a part of its San Andres and Providencia Department
In the northern part of the eastern reef is Quita Sueño Light.
The location is named Cayo Quitasueño
on the official nautical chart at 14°28′57.2298″N 81°7′39.7632″W
, but no emergent land is indicated around the lighthouse.
The light is erected on top of a square platform.
This lighthouse had originally been established by the United States in 1919. The current structure is from 1977. It is now called Faro Quitasueño Norte
since in 2008, a second lighthouse Faro Quitasueño Sur
was established in the southern part of the reef at 14°09′17″N 81°9′40″W
also had a claim to the bank. On November 19, 2012 the International Court of Justice
in The Hague
ruled the bank is a part of Colombia.
The ICJ found that only one of the 54 features identified by Nicaragua in Quitasueño is an island at high tide and thus eligible for a sovereignty claim.