The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, is leading a high-powered legal and technical team to Hamburg, Germany for the hearing of the merits in the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Ghana’s team includes officials from the Attorney-General’s Department, the Ministry of Energy, the Maritime Boundaries Secretariat, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Petroleum Commission and lawyers from Ghana and abroad.The team arrived in Hamburg earlier last week to prepare for a final legal showdown with the Ivorian legal and technical team, which is also in Hamburg.
The hearing of the delimitation of the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean will commence at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) from today (February 6, 2017) to February 16, 2017.
The first and the second rounds of oral arguments will come off from today, February 6, to February 10, 2016 and February 13 to 16, 2017, respectively.
The President of the Special Chamber constituted to deal with the dispute, Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, will preside over the hearing.
Other members of the panel hearing the case are judges Rüdiger Wolfrum, Germany, and Jin-Hyun Paik, the Republic of Korea.
Ad hoc judges Thomas Mensah, Ghana, and Ronny Abraham, France, were selected by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, respectively, per the rules of the ITLOS.
A press release issued on the ITLOS website on January 16, 2017 noted that the date was fixed after Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had filed their memorials and responses, respectively.
Preliminary issues on whether or not Ghana should be stopped from all activities on the disputed area were resolved in April 2015.
Ghana was, in April 2015, granted permission to continue with oil production from 10 drilled wells but barred from drilling new wells until the final determination of the case.
The dispute was submitted by way of a special agreement between the two countries to a special chamber of the tribunal, formed in application of Article 15, Paragraph 2 of the Statute by Order of the Tribunal dated January 12, 2015.
On February 27, 2015, Côte d’Ivoire submitted a request for the prescription of provisional measures under Article 290, Paragraph 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), requesting the chamber to order that Ghana shall, inter alia, “take all steps to suspend all oil exploration and exploitation operations underway in the disputed area”.
The Special Chamber, on April 25, 2015, directed Ghana to take all the necessary steps to ensure that no new drilling took place in disputed areas under its control.
Ten wells, which had been drilled already, have been developed and are currently producing oil.
The hearing will take place in the main courtroom of the tribunal and is open to the public.
The tribunal’s final decision will be delivered before the end of 2017.
After 10 failed negotiation attempts, Ghana, in September 2014, announced that it had instituted arbitration proceedings at the ITLOS to ensure a resolution of its maritime boundary dispute with Cote d’Ivoire.
In accordance with Article 3(a) of Annex VII, Ghana appointed Judge Thomas Mensah, a former President of the ITLOS, as a member of the tribunal.
“Despite several years of good faith negotiations, including at least 10 rounds of bilateral meetings, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have been unable to agree upon the location of their maritime boundary,” then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, announced at a press conference in Accra on September 23, 2014.