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Regional News

August 25, 2007
Ruling on Suriname-Guyana maritime border dispute expected in September
Caribbean Net News

PARAMARIBO, Suriname - The ruling on the maritime border dispute between Suriname and Guyana is expected in September, the Arbitral Tribunal that is handling the matter indicated Thursday.

"The secretary of the tribunal informed the Surinamese government Thursday morning on the issue", said Hans Lim A Po, Suriname's co-agent in this case. Several weeks ago it was indicated that a decision was expected in August.

According to Lim A Po, there should be no concern over the delay since it is not uncommon in such matters. Since the Tribunal has to determine the maritime borders definitively it is no surprise that more time is needed to hand down the decision.

The Guyanese government in February 2004 initiated arbitral proceedings, in accordance with Article 287 and Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in a bid to resolve the longstanding issue. Annex VII of the Convention sets out the rules and procedures for the establishment and functioning of an Arbitration Tribunal under the Convention.

These procedures allow for disputes relating to maritime boundaries between adjacent States which are Parties to the Treaty to be submitted for binding resolution to an Arbitration Tribunal established under the Treaty.

Guyana resorted to the procedure after bilateral talks between the two countries and mediation by CARICOM failed to produce a mutually agreed settlement on joint exploration and exploitation of the disputed area. The ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal will be binding on both nations.

According to the United States Geological Survey the Guyana Basin could contain up to 15.3 billion barrels of oil. Tension between Suriname and Guyana reached a climax in June 2001 when Surinamese gunboats evicted a Canadian oil exploration rig from a concession off the coast of Suriname awarded by Guyana.

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