Maritime Dispute Ghana ends first round of oral defence in maritime border disagreement

Cote D’Ivoire has accused Ghana of using the development of its oil industry to annexe the territory which does not belong to it. But, Ghana argues that it only developed its oil industry based on a recognised pre-existing maritime boundary by the two countries.

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Ghana has ended its first round oral argument in the maritime dispute between it and Cote D’Ivoire at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ITLOS in Hamburg, Germany.

Ghana’s new Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, who is also the leader of the country’s legal team said the claims made by Cote D’Ivoire was baseless since there had been a long-standing agreement on their maritime boundary under their domestic laws.

Cote D’Ivoire has accused Ghana of using the development of its oil industry to annexe the territory which does not belong to it.

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However, Gloria Akufo argued that Ghana had only developed its oil industry based on a recognised pre-existing maritime boundary by the two countries.

“It is on the basis of this tacit, mutual understanding that over many years Ghana has developed this industry step by step, openly, from the first licensing of blocks, through decades of studies, exploratory drilling and the eventual drilling of wells” she told the Special Chamber when it resumed public hearing on Tuesday, February 7, 2017.

Based on this, she prayed the Chamber “to affirm the customary equidistance boundary” as the maritime boundary between the two countries.

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Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and Gloria Akufo play

Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and Gloria Akufo

 

She, therefore, prayed the court “to declare the existence of a boundary which the Parties have themselves long agreed and delimited in practice and in consequence.”

She further argued that Cote D’Ivoire cannot only disagree with the accepted maritime border by both countries only because it believes Ghana will benefit economically.

“The fairness and good sense of equidistance as a method of delimitation in the circumstances of this case make it understandable why the two States adopted it as a basis for their customary boundary. It is impossible to think of a fairer solution. A fairly-drawn agreed line does not suddenly become unfair simply because one State decides that it would be economically more advantageous for it if the line were drawn somewhere else”

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Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and Gloria Akufo play

Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and Gloria Akufo

 

“Ghana submits that this case is both unusual and simple. It is unusual because the maritime boundary has already been agreed upon; it is simple because, given the coastal geography, it is a textbook case where equidistance can be easily and conveniently applied to reach a fair resolution. The two approaches, agreement and delimitation, lead to the same result”.

“Ghana asks this Special Chamber not to be swayed by the rather extravagant case Côte d’Ivoire seeks to present here by relying on a bisector theory and its related maps to create a huge area as the so-called area in dispute. Their bisector claim is so unrealistic that it should be dismissed out of hand”.

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Ivory Coast will begin its oral argument on Thursday, February 9, 2017. The second round of oral argument will begin on Monday, February 13, 2017.

The hearing is presided over by the President of the Special Chamber constituted to deal with the dispute Judge Boualem Bouguetaia.

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