Tribunal to hear Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire dispute
Hearing of the dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean has been scheduled for hearing from February 6 to 16, 2017.
The President of the Special Chamber constituted to deal with the dispute, Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, will preside over the hearing.
Other members of the panel are judges Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany and Jin-Hyun Paik of the Republic of Korea.
Ad hoc judges Thomas Mensah, Ghana, and Ronny Abraham, France, were selected by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, respectively, per the rules of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
A press release issued on the ITLOS website yesterday, January 16, 2017 said the date was fixed after Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had filed their memorials and responses, respectively.
Preliminary issues on whether or not Ghana should be stopped from all activities at the disputed area were resolved in April 2015.
The dispute was submitted, by way of a special agreement between the two countries, to a special chamber of the tribunal, formed in application of Article 15, Paragraph 2 of the Statute by Order of the Tribunal dated January 12, 2015.
On February 27, 2015, Côte d’Ivoire submitted a request for the prescription of provisional measures under Article 290, Paragraph 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), requesting the chamber to order that Ghana shall, inter alia, “take all steps to suspend all oil exploration and exploitation operations underway in the disputed area”.
The Special Chamber, on April 25, 2015, directed Ghana to take all the necessary steps to ensure that no new drilling took place in disputed areas under its control.
Ten wells which had been drilled already are currently being developed.
The hearing will take place in the main courtroom of the tribunal, which is opened to the public.
The tribunal’s final decision will be delivered before the end of 2017.
After 10 failed negotiation attempts, Ghana, in September 2014, announced that it had instituted arbitration proceedings at the ITLOS to ensure a resolution of its maritime boundary dispute with Cote d’Ivoire.
In accordance with Article 3(a) of Annex VII, Ghana appointed Judge Thomas Mensah, a former President of the ITLOS, as a member of the tribunal.
“Despite several years of good faith negotiations, including at least 10 rounds of bilateral meetings, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have been unable to agree upon the location of their maritime boundary,” then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, announced at a press conference in Accra on September 23, 2014.
Sources in the new government have indicated the government’s willingness to continue with the case at the ITLOS.
Consequently, the transitional team of the new government is currently in touch with Ghana’s technical and legal teams on the case.
The incoming Attorney-General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, is expected to lead Ghana’s delegation to Germany next month to battle it out with Cote d’Ivoire.
MABEL AKU BANESEH