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Earlier today, September 23, 2017, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) delivered a unanimous judgement in favour of Ghana. I received the news with great joy.
This marks a successful conclusion of four (4) years of hard work, dedication and commitment by a team of local and international lawyers and experts led by Ghana’s former Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong.
After fourteen (14) meetings of the Maritime Boundary Commission with their Ivorian counterparts over a period of six (6) years, a conclusion was reached in 2014 that negotiations were leading nowhere as La Cote D’Ivoire presented new calculations that claimed even more of Ghana’s recognised maritime territory.
Action became even more urgent after the Programme of Development was signed for work to begin on the TEN Field. Warning letters received from the Ivorian authorities by the TEN partners working legitimately in Ghana’s recognised maritime territory required that a definitive solution to the dispute was needed and urgently.
This was a difficult decision especially considering the very excellent relations established between our two countries. Our sovereignty and our precious resources were at risk and it was necessary to take the bold but difficult decision to issue the notice of arbitration to La Cote D’Ivoire.
I am proud of the results and salute my brother President Alassane Ouatarra that we did not allow this litigation to mar the cordial relations that exists between Ghana and La Cote D’Ivoire.
Ghana owes a debt of gratitude to the following- former Attorney General & Minister for Justice Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, Deputy Attorney General Dominic Ayine, Solicitor General Helen Ziwu; International Counsels Professor Philippe Sands Q.C. and Paul Reichler; Fui Tsikata and team from Reindorf Chambers; Hanna S. Tetteh, Kofi Buah, Nii Osah Mills, Jane Ahetor and Dr. Joseph Kwadwo Asensuo; Theo Ahwireng and team from Petroleum Commission; Thomas Manu and team from the GNPC; Kojo Efunam and officials of the EPA; Kwame Mfodwo & Professor Martin Tsamenyi from the Maritime Boundary Secretariat; Alex Tait of International Mapping Associates; members of the former Cabinet who endorsed my decision to proceed to ITLOS, and others too many to mention.
Appreciation must also go to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for his attempts, though unsuccessful, to mediate an amicable resolution of the dispute.
Ghana also owes its gratitude to President Nana Akufo-Addo and Attorney General Gloria Akuffo for allowing the litigation to continue and for the wise decision in seeking the collaboration of the former Attorney General in pursuing the case. It shows clearly, what we can achieve together when Government works as a continuum.
This win means that our sovereignty over the area has been preserved and upheld. It also means that all the billions of dollars’ worth of resources are available for the development and benefit of the good people of Ghana.
God bless our homeland Ghana and may He continue to make us great and strong.