The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, has told Parliament that her ministry has not been charged with the implementation of the recent judgment of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea [ITLOS], on the maritime boundaries between Ghana and La Cote D’Ivoire.
Regardless of this, she noted that her Ministry played a leading role as agent for government in the trial at the international court.
Gloria Akufo made the clarification in response to a question from Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Frank Annor Dompreh.
“Mr Speaker, ITLOS rendered a unanimous judgement on the maritime dispute between Ghana and Cote D’lvoire on 21st September 2017.
The Attorney General and Minister for Justice as the principal legal adviser to government appeared as the agent for Ghana in the matter. The office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice is not the implementing agency of the judgement in the matter. I thank you Mr. Speaker,” she said.
The Chamber in a unanimous decision on September 23, 2017, ruled that there has not been any violation on the part of Ghana on Côte d’Ivoire’s maritime boundary.
The Chamber rejected Côte d’Ivoire’s argument that Ghana’s coastal lines were unstable. It also noted that Ghana has not violated Côte d’Ivoire’s sovereign rights with its oil exploration in the disputed basin.
Justice Boualem Bouguetaia, President of the Special Chamber in reading the judgment, accepted Ghana’s argument of adoption of the equidistance method of delineation of the maritime boundary.
In consideration of the new boundary, the Chamber determined that it starts from boundary 55 -200 nautical miles away, a position much closer to what Ghana was arguing for.
In 2014, Ghana took the case to ITLOS to dispel claims it has encroached Cote d’Ivoire’s marine borders as part of oil exploration activities at Cape Three Points, off the shores of the Western Region.
Ghana’s defense held that Cote d’Ivoire was barred from demanding ownership to the disputed area it had acknowledged that Ghana owned the space without any qualms in the decades leading up to the oil discovery.
The oral hearings for the dispute were concluded in February 2017.
Ghana’s oil discovery
In 2007, Ghana discovered oil and gas in commercial quantities, and this was followed by Cote d’Ivoire staking its claim to portions of the West Cape Three Points.
These claims were renewed in 2010 after Vanco, an oil exploration and production company announced the discovery of oil in the Dzata-1 deepwater-well.
Cote d’Ivoire petitioned the United Nations asking for a completion of the demarcation of its maritime boundary with Ghana, and Ghana responded by setting up of the Ghana Boundary Commission.
This commission was tasked with the responsibility of negotiating with Côte d’Ivoire towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
But this commission bore no fruit, and in September 2014, Ghana dragged Cote d’Ivoire to ITLOS after 10 failed negotiations.
ITLOS’s first ruling in 2015 placed a moratorium on new projects, with old projects continuing after Cote d’Ivoire filed for preliminary measures and urged the tribunal to suspend all activities on the disputed area until the definitive determination of the case.
The moratorium prevented Tullow Oil from drilling additional 13 wells. Tullow thus drilled eleven  wells in Ghana’s first oil field.