Ghana/Cote D’Ivoire oil dispute: Legal arguments begin March 29

Preliminary legal arguments between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire on disputed maritime boundaries would begin at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on March 29, 2015.

The two countries are expected to continue their arguments on March 30, 2015 on whether or not all activities should be suspended on the disputed maritime boundary.

ITLOS would then fix a date for ruling on the matter.

The date for the legal arguments was arrived at after the parties had a conference call with the Special Chamber of ITLOS, which is based in Hamburg, Germany.

Thus, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong will lead a legal team to battle out the provisional issues with the Ivorian side on the slated days.

Ghana, on February 27, 2015, received a copy of a formal application from Cote d’Ivoire, which is asking the Special Chamber of ITLOS to order Ghana to suspend all activities in the disputed areas.
The activities include fishing and exploration of oil.

A major project to be affected should Cote d’Ivoire’s application be upheld is the exploration and exploitation works on the Tweneboah-Enyera-Ntoumme (TEN) project being operated by Tullow Oil Plc and its partners.

Such suspension, Cote d’Ivoire has argued, should remain in force until the tribunal delivers its final decision on the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire maritime boundary dispute currently pending before the court.

But Ghana is arguing that Cote d’Ivoire has not set out any solid legal foundation to warrant the suspension of activities in the disputed areas.

“We are prepared to legally battle it out with our neighbours. We have a strong case which is grounded in international law, and we believe the tribunal would uphold our submissions,” Mrs. Appiah-Opong disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in Accra on Wednesday.

She said the parties had a meeting with the Chairman of the Special Chamber in Hamburg, Germany, on February 18, 2015 to set out timelines for dealing with the entire case.

Cote d’Ivoire staked a claim to parts of Ghana’s offshore a year after Ghana discovered oil in commercial quantities in June 2007.

Following failed bilateral talks between the two countries in the past year, Ghana decided to turn to ITLOS under the rules set out by the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) to protect the country’s interest and that of oil companies who have invested millions of dollars in the exploration of oil at some of the disputed areas.

In the meantime, the President of ITLOS has appointed three judges to join two others to assist in determining the maritime boundary dispute between the two countries.

Source: Graphic Online

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