Specialised in settling marine cases, is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the ~` ;kޠnuK IeL:db International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Located in Hamburg, the court was founded in 1982 but became operational in 1996. The tribunal began work with the aim to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention under the supervision of a 21-independent member counsel. The members are elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognized competence in the field of the Law of the Sea.
The tribunal also has a mandate of regulating seabed mining beyond the limits of national jurisdiction that is beyond the limits of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone and the continental shelf. It currently has about 167 signatories and presides over 166 states including the European Union. The tribunal is noted for using two official languages; English and French. Its membership comprises a President, Vice President and (19) nineteen judges. These judges are elected by the States Parties. This is done through a meeting of States Parties every three years in New York. It is however significant to note that hearings are public unless the tribunal decides otherwise or the parties to the case request that the public not be admitted.
Over the years the tribunal is mandated to handle all cases that have been submitted them. They have so far handled about twenty- five (25) cases. During trail, all cases pass through a systematic proceeding either by written application or by notification of a special agreement.
Disputes before this court are decided by a majority of tribunal members who participate in the deliberations. The judgment is signed by the President and Registrar and read to the parties in an open session of the tribunal.
This procedure can be defined in the Statute and the Rules of the Tribunal as well as in the guidelines concerning the Preparation and Presentation of Cases before the Tribunal. Article 1 of the tribunal’s stature states that ‘it has a mandate to sit and exercise its functions elsewhere whenever it considers this desirable’.
The Ghanaian team of specialized lawyers and judges led by Counsel Gloria Akuffo, are presently at teIn3w,a~of1l/trkbual for the law of the Sea to finally iron out its case with Cote D’Ivoire on a marine boundary which fired up last year. Today’s procedure will start with oral arguments from respective teams. If Ghana is not able to make it through this case, it must be noted that Tribunal is one means for the settlement of disputes arising out of the Convention, the other means is through the International Court of Justice, an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII to the Convention, and a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII to the Convention.
However, the United Nations General Assembly has recognized the contribution of the Tribunal to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance)Wa*;`c)Yo _8e Convention and has underlined the Tribunal’s important role and authority concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention over the years.
www.reportingoilandgas.org- Jacqueline P. Parditey