Cote d’Ivoire has begun its oral submissions at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany, and is praying the tribunal to resolve its maritime boundary dispute with Ghana once and for all. 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 the sub-region’s democracy. Prior to his presentation, the agent for Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Adama Toungara, acknowledged delegations from Benin and Togo at the ITLOS. 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 of Justice, Ms Gloria Afua Akuffo, finished with its first round of arguments on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. Cote d’Ivoire is expected to end its first round of oral submissions today. The second round of oral submissions will begin on Monday, February 13, 2017. Ghana’s history Mr Toungara told the tribunal that Ghana’s version of history as narrated at the tribunal was unrealistic. Ghana had prayed the tribunal to uphold its more than five decades of tacit agreement with Cote d’Ivoire with respect to the maritime boundary and, accordingly, uphold Ghana’s position. But Mr Toungara said that could not be the case because Cote d’Ivoire had since 1988, raised issues with Ghana over the maritime boundary. He said both countries had never agreed on any boundary issue and for that reason, the Special Chamber should look into the issues and resolve them. More arguments One of the lawyers for Cote d’Ivoire, Prof. Michel Pitron, also submitted that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had never agreed on a maritime boundary. He accused Ghana of infringing on the sovereign rights of Cote d’Ivoire by engaging in unilateral activities despite objections from Cote d’Ivoire. Another lawyer for Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Adama Kamara, said Ghana only addressed the oil history of both countries because it was relying only on oil exploration agreements. According to him, Ghana abruptly ended negotiations on the dispute and decided to turn to ITLOS to resolve the dispute. Sir Wood For his part, Sir Michael Wood, also a lawyer for Cote d’Ivoire, said Ghana used Cote d’Ivoire’s failure to follow up on a call for a meeting to demarcate the boundary between the two countries to undertake unilateral activities. He said Ghana could not rely on seismic requests and authorisations to make a case for tacit agreement between the two countries. Counsel noted that Ghana was seeking to rely on petroleum agreements between the two countries as the basis for saying there was a tacit agreement between the two countries. He said Cote d’Ivoire’s national petroleum corporation, PETROCI, had no mandate to commit to any maritime boundary limitation. Sir Wood noted that maps provided by Ghana were prepared by companies and/or state agencies with limited mandate. According to him, Ghana had not established that there was tacit agreement between the two countries and, therefore, prayed the Special Chamber to conclude that there was no tacit agreement between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. He added by praying the tribunal to “approach the case with an open mind in accordance with the law.” Prof. Alina Miron, also a lawyer, accused Ghana of engaging in drilling and fishing activities at the blind side of Cote d’Ivoire’s protests. She said Cote d’Ivoire did not abandon the 1992 move to demarcate its boundary with Ghana, and further urged the tribunal to stop Ghana from engaging in unilateral actions.
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