Mahama AG’s Impeccable Work Wins Ghana Maritime Dispute

True to confident prediction, three years ahead of time, by former Attorney General under the Mahama regime, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, that Ghana has won its maritime boundary dispute with her Western neighbor, Cote d’Ivoire, hands down.

A unanimous decision by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) went in the favor of the country last Saturday, September 23.

ITLOS delivered judgment on Saturday, granting Ghana practically all reliefs sought, including the fact that petroleum drillings undertaken by Ghana, since 2010, have not been done within the territorial waters of the Ivory Coast.

The judgment has sent elation throughout Ghana as it firmly consigns three oil fields, the Tweneboa, Enyira and Ntome (TEN), which formed the subject matter of dispute between the two countries, within the territorial integrity of Ghana.

Three years ahead of this judgment, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, former Attorney General, who had served as such during the Mahama regime, had predicted as much.

“We’re extremely confident in our case. I don’t think we’ll lose. Many laws support the position we’ve taken so I’m confident that it will go our way,” Ghana’s Mrs. Appiah-Oppong had told journalists at a press conference in Accra in September, 2014.

Mrs. Appiah-Oppong had then gone on to put together a strong team of lawyers that she led herself to litigate on behalf of Ghana after 10 failed negotiations with the Ivory Coast.

Later, after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government had been voted into power in 2016, Mrs. Appiah-Oppong had teamed up with her successor, Gloria Akuffo, to continue with the litigation.

Last Saturday, the ITLOS had granted practically all the reliefs that Marietta had sought on behalf of Ghana from the beginning of the litigation in 2014, except for the adjustment of a Base Point sought by Ghana by just some 5 seconds.

Fallouts from litigations

According to the judgment, Ghana has not encroached on the Ivory Coast’s maritime boundary, as the Ivory Coast had claimed and therefore all the drilling that Ghana has undertaken for oil since 2010, have not taken place within the waters of the Ivory Coast.

The Base Point forwarded by Ghana (BP55) – 5 degrees, 55mns, 28 sec, however, has been adjusted 5 degrees, 5minutes, 5 seconds which culminates into only 5 seconds deficit to Ghana (denoted as BP55+ on the basis of 200 nautical miles) a nautical mile being 1852 meters.

The ITLOS held that the concave nature of Ivory Coast’s border cannot be used as basis to adjust the border line since navigation cannot be impaired under international laws governing the sea.

It said Ghana has also not violated any international obligations pertaining to the matter of the drilling of oil as suggested by the Ivory Coast.

Superior litigation by Ghana

The ITLOS had, by its judgment, implied that the Ivorian legal team had done a rather poor job, compared to the superior job by Ghana’s legal team, which had been started by Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong.

In September 2014, Mrs. Appiah Oppong had said the line drawn to delineate Ghana’s maritime territory from Ivory Coast’s has “existed for decades” since the 1950s “so Ghana is not ready to shift its position.”


Ghana had gone 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 had filed its suit based on Article 287 Annex VII of the 1982 UNCLOS.

Cote d’Ivoire, earlier in February 2015, had 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” had been 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, pending the final determination of the case, as requested by La Cote D’Ivoire

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.”

Later, in its final submissions, Ghana had requested of the “the Special Chamber to adjudge and declare that:

1) Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have mutually recognized, agreed, and applied an equidistance-based maritime boundary in the territorial sea, EEZ and continental shelf within 200 M.

2) The maritime boundary in the continental shelf beyond 200M follows an extended equidistance boundary along the same azimuth as the boundary within 200 M, to the limit of national jurisdiction.

3) In accordance with international law, by reason of its representations and upon which Ghana has placed reliance, Côte d’Ivoire is estopped from objecting to the agreed maritime boundary.

4) That the land boundary terminus and starting point forth agreed maritime boundary is at Boundary pillar 55 (BP 55).

5) As per the Parties’ agreement in December 2013, the geographic coordinates of BP 55 are 05° 05’ 28.4” N and 03° 06’ 21.8” W (in WGS 1984 datum).

6) Consequently, therefore, the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean starts at BP 55, connects to the customary equidistance boundary mutually agreed by the Parties at the outer limit of the territorial sea, and then follows the agreed boundary to a distance of 200 M. Beyond 200 M, the boundary continues along the same azimuth to the limit of national jurisdiction. The boundary line connects the following points, using loxodromes (the geographic coordinates are in WGS 1984 datum):

7) Côte d’Ivoire’s claim alleging violation of the Special Chamber’s Order of 25 April 2015 is rejected.

8) Côte d’Ivoire’s claim alleging violation of Article83 of UNCLOS and Côte d’Ivoire’s sovereign rights is rejected.”

Ivory Coast’s case

In its final submissions, Côte d’Ivoire requests “the Special Chamber to reject all Ghana’s requests and claims, and:

(1) to declare and adjudge that the sole maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire follows the 168.7o azimuth line, which starts at boundary post 55 and extends to the outer limit of the Ivorian continental shelf;

(2) to declare and adjudge that the activities undertaken unilaterally by Ghana in the Ivorian maritime area constitute a violation of:

  • the exclusive sovereign rights of Côte d’Ivoire over its continental shelf, as delimited by this Chamber;

(ii) the obligation to negotiate in good faith, pursuant to article 83, paragraph 1, of UNCLOS and customary law;

(iii) the obligation not to jeopardize or hamper the conclusion of an agreement, as provided for by article 83, paragraph 3, of UNCLOS; and

(3) to declare and adjudge that Ghana has violated the provisional measures prescribed by this Chamber by its Order of 25 April 2015;

(4) and consequently:

(a) to invite the Parties to carry out negotiations in order to reach agreement on the terms of the reparation due to Côte d’Ivoire, and

(b) to state that, if they fail to reach an agreement within a period of 6 months as from the date of the Judgment to be delivered by the Special Chamber, said Chamber will determine those terms of reparation on the basis of additional written documents dealing with this subject alone.”


On Saturday, the 23rd of September, 2017, the Court had decided that its Special Chamber had jurisdiction to delimit the maritime boundary between the Parties in the territorial sea, in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf, both within and beyond 200 nm.

It found that there was no tacit agreement between the Parties to delimit their territorial waters, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf both within and beyond 200 nm, and rejected Ghana’s claim that Côte d’Ivoire should be estopped from objecting to the “customary equidistance boundary”.

The court decided the single maritime boundary for the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf within and beyond 200 nm starts at BP 55+ with the coordinates 05° 05’ 23.2” N, 03° 06’ 21.2’’ W in WGS 84 as a geodetic datum and is defined by turning points A, B, C, D, E, F with the following coordinates and connected by geodetic lines:

From turning point F, the single maritime boundary continues as a geodetic line starting at an azimuth of 191° 38’ 06.7’’ until it reaches the outer limits of the continental shelf.

The court said it finds that it has jurisdiction to decide on the claim of Côte d’Ivoire against Ghana on the alleged international responsibility of Ghana:

That Ghana did not violate the sovereign rights of Côte d’Ivoire:

That Ghana did not violate article 83, paragraphs 1 and 3, of the Convention.

That Ghana did not violate the provisional measures prescribed by the Special Chamber in its Order of 25 April 2015.”


Source: Fiifi Samuels

The Republic News Online

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