Monday, April 27, 2015
Over the weekend, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) panel issued an Order granting in part Cote d'Ivoire's request for Provisional Measures against Ghana.
The parties submitted the dispute to ITLOS by way of a special agreement in December 2014. Hearings on the parties' requests for provisional measures were held at the end of March 2015. Cote d'Ivoire had requested that the tribunal order Ghana to stop all oil exploration activities in the disputed area and take steps to preserve the continental shelf and marine environment.
The tribunal noted that it has jurisdiction to prescribe provisional measures in order to preserve the rights of the parties or to prevent serious harm to the marine environment. The tribunal found that Cote d'Ivoire presented enough evidence that the rights it seeks to protect in the disputed area are plausible. The tribunal found that Ghana's planned exploration and exploitation activities carry a risk of irreparable prejudice to Cote d'Ivoire's rights. However, the tribunal found that Cote d'Ivoire did not present sufficient evidence of risk of serious harm to the marine environment.
The tribunal believed that ordering Ghana to cease all oil exploration activities could cause serious harm to Ghana and could even harm the marine environment. Thus, it chose instead to order Ghana not to engage in any new oil exploration activities and to take steps to preserve the marine environment. Ghana is to submit a report to the tribunal regarding its compliance by 25 May 2015.
For more information, see this press release.