An overview of the Ghana/Côte d’Ivoire judgment is provided in the first part of this post. The purpose of this second part is to highlight issues of practical significance which flow from the judgment.
In two important ways, the Ghana/Côte d’Ivoire judgment has demonstrated the functionality of dispute resolution processes under Part XV of UNCLOS, both in the context of maritime delimitation disputes and more generally.
Consistency with international delimitation jurisprudence
First, the ITLOS Special Chamber evidenced a desire to contribute to the development of consistent delimitation jurisprudence, and confirmed that the ‘equidistance/relevant circumstances method’ is now standard in a delimitation process – regardless of whether the coasts of claiming States parties are opposite or adjacent to one another. Importantly, it adhered to the three-step methodology identified and employed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Black Sea. It did so by drawing a provisional equidistance line between the relevant coasts, considering the factors which might warrant adjustment of that line, and then applying an ex-post facto (dis)proportionality test to verify that the delimitation line was equitable. Notably, the Special Chamber maintained consistency with recent maritime delimitation jurisprudence by underscoring the primacy of criteria associated with coastal geography (concavity, coastal length, etc.) and ignoring factors related to offshore oil activities or the presence of seabed resources in the relevant area. Read the rest of this entry…