A former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, has said Ghana’s decision to take its maritime boundary dispute with Cote d’Ivoire to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the favourable outcome have saved the country billions of dollars in investment.
“Saturday’s judgement from the ITLOS is a clear manifestation of how best our decision was. The area which was in dispute is worth billions of dollars and, indeed, oil companies operating in that area have invested billions of dollars so far.
“It would have been a catastrophe if the decision had gone otherwise,” she told the Daily Graphic in an interview on Monday.
She said Ghana took the best decision when it decided to challenge Cote d’Ivoire’s claims over the oil-rich Tano Basin.
She said the outcome was a victory for Ghana, adding that it marked the successful conclusion of four years of hard work, dedication and commitment by a team of local and international lawyers and experts.
Mrs Appiah-Opong paid glowing tribute to Ghana’s international and local lawyers, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Energy and the Maritime Boundary Secretariat, state attorneys, among many others.
She also commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Attorney-General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, for continuing from where her (Mrs Appiah Opong’s) team left off, following the change in government.
She expressed gratitude to former President John Dramani Mahama and members of the former Cabinet for backing her at the ITLOS.
Asked what she made of criticisms to the effect that Ghana should not have gone to the ITLOS, Mrs Appiah-Opong said, “As you can see, the tribunal did not recognise Ghana’s position that there had been a tacit agreement over the maritime boundary between it and Cote d’Ivoire for the past four decades. It has rather proceeded to generate a new map, which will be binding on both countries from now onwards.
“This, to me, has brought finality to the matter. Oil companies that have invested millions of dollars in the Tano Basin can now operate with renewed energy, hope and confidence,” she said.
The outcome of the case, she said, would also renew investor confidence in Ghana’s oil and gas sector.
“This decision is a win for Ghana. Generations yet unborn will benefit from it. This calls for celebration and nothing else,” she added.
Ms Gloria Akuffo
Meanwhile, Ms Akuffo, who led Ghana’s delegation to observe the ITLOS judgement, read a communiqué at a joint press conference with officials from Cote d’Ivoire shortly after the tribunal’s decision last Saturday.
Both countries agreed to abide by the decision.
It was an emotional scene as parties from both sides shook hands and hugged one another after the court's decision.
Ghana, on Saturday, September 23, 2017, emerged victorious in its three-year-long maritime boundary dispute with Cote d’Ivoire.
The Special Chamber of the ITLOS constituted to hear the dispute unanimously declared that Ghana had not violated Cote d’Ivoire’s sovereign rights with its oil exploration activities.
It also held that Ghana was not financially obligated to Cote d’Ivoire with respect to those activities to give rise to the issue of reparation (compensation).
The tribunal further rejected Cote d’Ivoire’s claim that Ghana disobeyed its April 25, 2015, preliminary orders, which directed that new wells should not be drilled in the disputed area.