Ghana has called on the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), not to be swayed by Ivory Coast’s argument in the ongoing maritime boundary dispute between the two countries, in its final submission.
The Attorney General and leader of Ghana’s delegation to the ITLOS, Gloria Akuffo, told the Special Chamber that Ivory Coast was trying to move the boundary to the east to benefit from Ghana’s oil reserves, saying, “they simply cannot escape from years of mutual practice, however hard they try, in implementation of and reinforced by their own official maps, laws and decrees”.
“It was easy to lose count of the different ways in which they tried to portray the coast. Arrows went one way and then the other, coastal directions twisting and turning; land was added; land was removed, depending on what point they wanted to make at any particular moment”, she added.Both countries are at the ITLOS over their maritime boundary after several bilateral talks failed.
Ghana in its first round of oral argument earlier this month, told the Special Chamber that the two countries had already agreed on their maritime boundary per their domestic laws, a claim Ivory Coast disputed.
Ending their oral submissions on Tuesday, Madam Akuffo insisted on the country’s earlier argument, and prayed the Special Chamber to determine the maritime boundary for both countries if it did not agree with Ghana’s argument.
She told the Special Chamber that, “There is, despite Côte d’Ivoire’s protestations to the contrary, an existing boundary, and it is based on equidistant. If, contrary to our view, there is no boundary, then the law dictates that you should not resort to another method of delimitation unless it is unfeasible to construct an equidistant line, and since both parties have easily done so, that surely puts an end to this notion of bisector, an argument which should never have been made, and which appears concocted, unfortunately, only to increase the so-called “area in dispute””.
She added, “in this context, we ask you to examine carefully how both parties’ concessions followed the customary boundary; to look at the many Ivorian government maps, which clearly mark that boundary; to weigh up the vast range of evidence which shows where the line was long agreed to lie”.
Ghana is therefore urging the Chamber to summarily to “reject Côte d’Ivoire’s attempts to argue that an oil field built up and developed over decades should have been abandoned overnight in 2009 when Côte d’Ivoire decided that a different boundary would suit it better”.
The Attorney General further urged the Special Chamber to adjudge and declare, among others, that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have mutually recognized, agreed, and applied an equidistant-based maritime boundary in the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf within 200 Miles.
She also prayed the Chamber to reject “Côte d’Ivoire’s claim alleging violation of article 83 of The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and Côte d’Ivoire’s sovereign rights”, reiterating the country’s confidence in the Chamber to deliver a principled ruling.
The hearing was presided over by Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, President of the Special Chamber constituted to deal with the dispute.
Ivory Coast will start the second round of its oral argument tomorrow, Thursday, February 16, 2017.