ITLOS rules in Ghana's favour but issues operative clauses


The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has delivered judgement in Ghana’s favour in the maritime dispute with neighbours La Cote d’Ivoire. It has, however, directed the two nations to agree on some measures, key among them is an agreement on the delimitation of their maritime boundaries. The Tribunal observed that two countries had differing views on the starting point of their maritime borders. The Special Chamber, after years of adjudicating the case, on Saturday delivered judgement in the presence of both parties. Ghana’s delegation was led by Minister of Justice Gloria Akuffo while Presidential Advisor Adama Toungara led La Cote d’Ivoire’s delegation which had its Minister of Oil. The Special Chamber raised concerns over Ghana’s “traditional”, “customary” and “tacit” equidistant agreement of more than five decades by recommending new methodologies for delimitation within and beyond 200 nautical miles. New coordinates were, as a result, ordered for the feuding parties by the Special Chamber. It cited the Qatar-Bahrain and Bangladesh-Myanmar precedents in delivering its judgement. Ghana decided to seek clarity at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over the maritime boundary in 2014 after bilateral negotiations with La Cote d’Ivoire yielded no results. While Ghana claimed the equidistant methodology has been the agreement between the two countries for a long-time now, La Cote d’Ivoire wanted a new approach – Angle Bisector methodology – to be adopted. That new approach would have limited Ghana’s exploratory activities in the Cape Three Points. Conceding that an “appropriate methodology for the delimitation of maritime zones” needed to be agreed upon between the two nations, the Special Chamber concluded that “none of the activities of Ghana engages its international responsibility”. “Therefore, the Special Chamber considers that there is no need to address the question of reparation.” The Chamber commended Ghana’s disposition in cooperating during the dispute and, by extension, communicating with La Cote d’Ivoire every step of the way. “The Special Chamber observes, however, that Ghana did not immediately provide all the information requested by Cote d’Ivoire and that it did so only after the President of the Special Chamber requested it to comply by letter dated 23 September 2016. “The Special Chamber nevertheless considers that such conduct cannot reasonably be considered to constitute a violation of the measures prescribed in the Order of 25 April 2015.” Jomoro La Cote d’Ivoire had also raised issues with Ghana’s most south-western city of Jomoro, claiming it is within its territory. “Jomoro is undeniably part of the territory of Ghana,” the Special Chamber stated. “It cannot be treated as an island or a protruded peninsula.” It said by the Commission on Limits and Continental Shelf (CLCS) standards, Jomoro is within Ghana’s territorial area. After Saturday’s settlement, it is expected that cartographers will redesign the boundaries with the newly agreed coordinates, which are said to give Ghana a wider territory. By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana  ]]>


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