Hearing of the maritime border dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast yesterday began at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
The President of the Special Chamber constituted to deal with the dispute, Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, is presiding over the hearing over the next 10 days.
Ghana’s team, led by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Gloria Akuffo, put up its defense yesterday and will continue today.
Ghana first submitted her memorial and the initial hearing was done.
The country was then given the mandate to go ahead with drills but with some restrictions.
Ivory Coast has also submitted its counter memorial a couple of months ago after Ghana submitted its initial memorial.
Cote d’Ivoire had earlier called for the suspension of activities on Ghana’s oil fields by disputing the maritime boundary until the final determination of their disagreement over the boundary.
Ghana went to the ITLOS in September 2014 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), seeking a declaration that it has not encroached on Cote d’Ivoire’s territorial waters.
It filed its suit based on Article 287 Annex VII of the 1982 UNCLOS.
Cote d’Ivoire in February 2015 filed for preliminary measures and urged the tribunal to suspend all activities on the disputed area until the definitive determination of the case, dubbed: “Dispute Concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Case 23” was filed by Ghana after 10 failed negotiations.
But the Special Chamber of the ITLOS on April 25, 2015 declined to suspend production activities in the disputed area.
The Chamber at the time explained that in its view “the suspension of ongoing activities conducted by Ghana in respect of which drilling has already taken place would entail the risk of considerable financial loss to Ghana, and its concessionaires and could also pose a serious danger to the marine environment resulting, in particular, from the deterioration of equipment.”
Cote d’Ivoire had up to April 4, 2016 to file its counter-memorial (detailed defence) as to why it should be declared the owner of disputed oilfields and adjoining seabed.
Ghana also had up to July 4, 2016 to submit a reply to Cote d’Ivoire’s counter-memorial, while Cote d’Ivoire is expected to file a rejoinder on October 4, 2016.