UN tribunal fixes Indo-Bangladesh maritime border

Myanmar dispute was settled in 2012 at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published:July 9, 2014 3:15 am

Ending years of dispute over the maritime boundary between India and Bangladesh, a UN tribunal Tuesday announced that Bangladesh will get 19,467 sq km out of the total 25,602 sq km disputed area with India in the Bay of Bengal.

By a majority of four votes to one, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in the Netherlands determined the course of the maritime boundary line between Bangladesh and India in the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles.

The only dissenter in the tribunal was Pemmaraju Sreenivasa Rao, who concurred in part and dissented in part with the decision reached by the majority of the tribunal and attached a separate concurring and dissenting opinion to the award.

Rao had earlier served as the distinguished Indian international lawyer that headed the Legal and Treaties Division in the Ministry of External Affairs, and was the chief legal adviser of India on international law matters from 1985 to 2002.

The award establishes the course of the maritime boundary line between Bangladesh and India in the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone, and the continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles.

In its verdict, the tribunal unanimously decided that it has jurisdiction to identify the land boundary terminus and to delimit the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone, and the continental shelf between the parties within and beyond 200 nautical miles in the areas where the claims of the parties overlap. The tribunal was also unanimous in identifying the location of the land boundary terminus between Bangladesh and India and in determining the course of the maritime boundary in the territorial sea.

“We respect the verdict of the tribunal and are in the process of studying the award and its full implications,” Syed Akbaruddin, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

“We believe that the settlement of the maritime boundary will further enhance mutual understanding and goodwill between India and Bangladesh by bringing to closure a long pending issue. This paves the way for the economic development of this part of the Bay of Bengal, which will be beneficial to both countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh described the verdict a “win-win” situation.

“The award enables both sides to move forward confidently into a new future and to build a new era of understanding and cooperation in the maritime sector,” Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali said in Dhaka.

The award brings to an end an arbitration process Bangladesh kicked off in 2009 under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, over disputes with Myanmar and India.

The Myanmar dispute was settled in 2012 after arbitration at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in Hamburg.

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