– Crony ‘Row’ Over Oilfields
September 23, this year, has become an important calendar date for both Ghana and her Western neighbour, Cote d’Ivoire, as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) will deliver judgment on the maritime boundary dispute between the two countries on that day.
Consequently, September 23 will determine whether Ghana will continue to own the Jubilee oil fields off the Gulf of Guinea or not.
“The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, constituted to deal with the dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean (Ghana/Côte d’Ivoire), will deliver its Judgment at 11 a.m. on Saturday, 23 September 2017.
“The Judgment will be read by Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, President of the Special Chamber,” ITLOS said in a release.
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, 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” 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, 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.”
Throughout the litigation, Ghana has been very upbeat about the outcome, given what is seen as the clarity of the delineation line between Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
In September 2014, then Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, had said many laws supported Ghana’s case.
“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.
According to the former AG, 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.”
Upon the assumption of the reins of power by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) which had seen the appointment of AG, Gloria Akuffo, as successor to Marietta Appiah-Oppong, the two lawyers joined forces.
In February, 2017, the two astute lawyers appeared at the ITLOS together to defend the motherland’s territorial integrity.
Meanwhile, Ghana has since walked a fine and very friendly line with her Western neighbour throughout the case. Mrs. Appiah-Oppong summed up Ghana’s sentiments on the dispute in 2014.
“This is not a hostile act. All we’re doing is to bring certainty and finality to the matter. It does not mean we’re at loggerheads, or the two heads of state are fighting.”
Since then, President Alassane Ouattara has attended the investiture of President Nana Akufo-Addo as Special Guest of Honour, in January 2017.