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13 February 2017

Accept bisector method of maritime boundary delimitation. Cote d’Ivoire urges tribunal

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Presenting their case on the fourth day of hearing at the ITLOS, lawyers for Cote d’Ivoire were of the view that its bisector claim respects the rights and interests of neighbouring countries.

Cote d’Ivoire is urging the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany, to accept its bisector method of maritime boundary delimitation to protect the interest of other countries in the sub-region.

According to Cote d’Ivoire, that would set a precedent for other countries in the region.

It argued that Ghana’s equidistance claim might prejudice the interest of other countries such as Togo and Benin in the Gulf of Guinea.

Presenting their case on the fourth day of hearing at the ITLOS, lawyers for Cote d’Ivoire were of the view that its bisector claim respects the rights and interests of neighbouring countries.

They argued that the states situated on the section of the Gulf of Guinea in the general east-north-easterly direction (between Cape Palmas in Liberia and the mouth of the Nun River in Nigeria) that is, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin, have not delimited their maritime boundaries by way of agreement.

They further held that Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana were the first of the countries to have conducted negotiations in the true sense in order to delimit their common maritime boundary and also to submit a case to an international tribunal, owing to the failure of these negotiations.

Prof. Michael Pitron, Prof. Alain Pellet, Mr Michel Pitron and Prof. Alina Miron took turns to present Cote d’Ivoire’s case to the Special Chamber at its sitting in Hamburg, Germany, yesterday.

The first and second rounds of oral arguments will take place from February 6 to 10, 2017, and February 13 to February 16, 2017, respectively.

Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, the President of the Special Chamber constituted to deal with the dispute, is presiding over the hearing.

Other members of the panel hearing the case are Judges Rüdiger Wolfrum, Germany, and Jin-Hyun Paik, 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 ITLOS.

Case of Cote d’Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire is praying the tribunal to resolve its maritime boundary dispute with Ghana once and for all.

It is claiming Ghana has taken over parts of its maritime space.

According to Cote d’Ivoire, the maritime boundary dispute between the two countries was exceptional in all respects because the settlement would serve as a precedent for the sub-region, as well as enhance democracy in the region.

It is the turn of Cote d’Ivoire to orally address the Special Chamber hearing the dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire after Ghana, led by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Ms Gloria Afua Akuffo, had finished with its first round of arguments on Tuesday, February 7, 2017.

Cote d’Ivoire ended its first round of oral submissions on February 10, 2017.

The second round of oral submissions will begin on Monday, February 13, 2017.

Sovereign Interest

Prof. Pellet told the tribunal that Ghana’s goal of achieving an equitable equidistance method was subjective and submitted that Cote d’Ivoire’s bisector claim was objective and appropriate.

For his part, Prof. Pitron accused Ghana of slamming the door on Cote d’Ivoire on the area of the interest of the sub-region.

He said Cote d’Ivoire was referring to the interest of other states in the sub-region and for that reason the tribunal should adopt Cote d’Ivoire’s bisector method of delimitation.

The Ivorian lawyer held that the International Court of Justice and arbitral tribunals, being fully aware of the influence which their decisions might have on neighbouring states, take sub-regional interests into account when delimiting maritime boundaries.

Cote d’Ivoire’s Memorial

Cote d’Ivoire is arguing that within the context of delimitation of a maritime boundary, judicial bodies take the existence and respect of the rights and interests of neighbouring states into consideration when delimiting a maritime boundary between two states.

“Thus, the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice, like that of arbitral tribunals, adopts a macro-geographical view of disputes and takes account of recognised rights, as well as potential rights of neighbouring states in the same area,” Cote d’Ivoire has argued in its memorial.

“In this particular case, the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana will not encroach upon the rights of third States since the Gulf of Guinea is open to the ocean.

“Hence, the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana maritime boundary is not likely to prejudice directly Liberia, Togo or Benin or the other Gulf of Guinea States.

“Nevertheless, delimiting this boundary in the manner advocated by this Chamber would be liable to create a sub-regional precedent.

“In that respect, this precedent should not be such as to harm the interests of neighbouring states when they undertake the delimitation of their own maritime boundaries, by way of agreement or through a court,” Cote d’Ivoire has argued.

 

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