By Frank Amponsah
The President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has commended the legal team that ensured that the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire ended favorably for Ghana.
He also lauded the team for working to ensure that the country’s western maritime resources, including its oil and gas potential, rightfully remained in Ghana’s possession.
The President was addressing a ceremony held in honour of the Maritime boundary dispute team at the Flagstaff House in Accra a couple of days ago.
He said “It has been a long and arduous journey, involving many whose determination and commitment have brought us this far. Tonight, to each and every one of you, we say ayekoo. Ghana is indebted to you.”
He said Chief Justice Sophia Akufo and her team have helped guarantee not only the possibilities of development, progress and prosperity of Ghana but also that of successive generations of Ghanaians yet unborn, who will be beneficiaries of the revenues to be accrued from the commercial exploitation of maritime resources and potentials.
According to the President, this victory could not have been achieved through the actions of one person, one political party or one government but a collective effort, and the important roles played by successive Presidents and governments.
He played glowing tribute to former presidents and said, “Tonight, I pay tribute to the former President of the Republic, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, under whose farsighted leadership, in 1983, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) was established. GNPC was set up to be a strategic, commercial vehicle to help accelerate the pace for the exploration of oil and gas. The Corporation, under the strong leadership of Tsatsu Tsikata, played a pioneering role in gathering, analyzing and interpreting data for oil and gas exploration, and beginning to attract other companies to participate in the exploration.”
He said: “It was under the leadership of my former boss, the former President of the Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, that GNPC was restructured to ensure that it focused on its core activity of exploration, and the promotion of the oil and gas potential of the country. Under him, the fundamentals of our macro economy were stabilized, enhancing our appeal as an investment destination.”
According to him, a combination of the new fiscal regime and GNPC’s promotional activities yielded results, as a number of oil exploration companies invested in Ghana, which led to the discovery in 2007 of the Jubilee Fields, followed by a quick succession of other discoveries, including the TEN fields.
In July 2008, he indicated, Ghana began preparations for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
“The deadline for the submissions was 13th May, 2009, for member states, including Ghana that had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) before 1999. If the submission had not been made by that date, Ghana would have lost her maritime territory beyond the 200 nautical miles” he said.
He made references to the roles played by the then Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines, Prof. Dominic Fobih, when he appointed a Committee to formulate appropriate proposals which would enable Ghana to assess the chances of a continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles resulting in the first meeting with Cote d’Ivoire over the boundary, adding that the unique role of Prof. Dominic Fobih is the fact that he discovered and brought to the attention of President Kufuor’s administration, the conditionality of the UN approaching deadline of 13th May, 2009.
“In 2010, the late President of the Republic, His Excellency John Evans Atta-Mills, set up a 10-member Ghana Boundary Commission to undertake negotiations to delimit the maritime boundary. The Ministers of his government, Foreign Minister Mohammed Mumuni, Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda, and Barbara Asamoah, the then Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, all played various roles in those negotiations. It was in 2011 when the activities of our Ivorian neighbours led to the sequence of events that, ultimately, saw us seize the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).”
He mentioned that in 2014 John Dramani Mahama, took the courageous decision to initiate arbitration through a Notification and a Statement of the claim, dated 19thSeptember, 2014, Ghana invoked the jurisdiction of ITLOS, after ten rounds of negotiations between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had not yielded any result.
According to the President, upon assumption of office in January 2017, he constituted a legal team, headed by the new Attorney General Gloria Afua Akuffo, which co-operative effort of all members secured the famous result of 23rd September, 2017, for the country.
The judgment of the Tribunal, according to the President has brought finality to a maritime boundary dispute that had been extant for over five decades although the precise economic impact is yet to be assessed and that following the delimitation of the boundary by the Tribunal, it is clear that, in net terms, Ghana will gain, not suffer, any loss of territory.
The legal team, tasked by former President Mahama, to litigate the matter was headed by the then Attorney General Marietta Brew Oppong, and included such as Solicitor-General Helen Awo Ziwu, Fui Tsikata, Jane Aheto, Vivienne Gadzekpo, Pearl Akiwumi Siriboe, Azara Prempeh, Adwoa Wiafe, Godwin Djokoto, Anita Lokko, former Solicitor-General Ama Gaisie, Solomon Korbieh, Sylvia Adusu, Korshie Gavor, Patmos Addae, Roselyn Addai, Nabeela Wahab, Dr. Kofi Mbiah, Etta Mensah, and Zeinab Ayariga.
They were aided by well-known international maritime lawyers – Phillippe Sands, Daniel Alexander, Clara Beillembourg, Pierre Klein, Alison Macdonald, Paul Reichler, Anjolie Singh, Nicholas Renzler and Alejandra Torres Camprubi