Tribunal set to rule on Ghana
Gloria Akoffo
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Sep 8, 2017

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) will on September 23, 2017, rule on the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

A statement issued by the Tribunal said, “The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, constituted to deal with the dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean (Ghana/Côte d’Ivoire), will deliver its Judgment at 11 am on Saturday, 23 September 2017.”

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The judgment, ITLOS said will be read by Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, President of the Special Chamber.

The ITLOS further indicated that the judgment would be read at a public sitting and broadcasted live on the website of the Tribunal.

Also, the text of the judgment will be made available on its website shortly after its delivery and a recorded webcast of the reading will also be made available under Webcast Archives after the close of the sitting, the statement said.

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the West African neighbours, have each laid claim to the disputed boundary in the Atlantic Ocean.

Cote d’Ivoire is praying the tribunal to declare that Ghana had moved into its maritime boundary but Ghana, on the other hand, has requested the tribunal to reject Cote d’Ivoire’s claims and maintain the status quo which had been respected by both countries for more than four decades.

Ghana went to the ITLOS in September 2014, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), seeking a declaration that it has not encroached on Cote d’Ivoire’s territorial waters.

It filed its suit based on Article 287 Annex VII of the 1982 UNCLOS.

Cote d’Ivoire in February 2015 filed for preliminary measures and urged the tribunal to suspend all activities in the disputed area until the definitive determination of the case, dubbed: “Dispute

Concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean.”

The case was filed by Ghana after ten failed negotiations.

But the Special Chamber of the ITLOS on April 25, 2015, declined to suspend production activities in the disputed area.

The Chamber at the time explained that in its view, “the suspension of ongoing activities conducted by Ghana in respect of which drilling has already taken place would entail the risk of considerable financial loss to Ghana, and its concessionaires and could also pose a grave danger to the marine environment resulting, in particular, from the deterioration of equipment.”

Ghana ended its second and final round of arguments at the ITLOS in Hamburg, Germany, accusing its neighbour Cote d’Ivoire for intentionally turning a blind eye to Ghana’s legal arguments.

According to the legal team from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire’s arguments lacked merit as they have no evidence to back claims that Ghana had moved into Cote d’Ivoire’s maritime space.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, officially ended Ghana’s oral arguments at the tribunal with a call on ITLOS to reject Cote d’Ivoire’s claims that Ghana has moved into its maritime boundary.

Ghana’s oil reserves could increase should the ITLOS verdict go in its favour. This is because the country’s largest oil and gas discovery by HESS Petroleum is located in the disputed area.

Dr Steve Manteaw, member of Ghana’s Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) believes that a decision by ITLOS on the disputed area would help to settle the disagreement once and for all.

Tullow Oil, the largest oil producer in Ghana, is looking forward to drilling 13 more wells in addition to the 11 wells it has already drilled as part of its expansion drive in the area. Out of 24

wells, Tullow drilled only 11 wells from its full plan due to a drilling moratorium imposed by ITLOS.

By Francis Tandoh/

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