Tell us what it's going to take for you to return to Guyana.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Suriname makes official challenge to maritime award

Looks like some number crunchers on the Surinamese side have found a technical way to contest the maritime border award. They may have a point but there's not enough information here for me to tell. Maybe my ramblings about how to ensure that the Guyanese people benefit from the oil revenue are premature.

Experts find flaws in Suriname-Guyana maritime boundary award
Published on Thursday, October 11, 2007

By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean Net News Suriname Correspondent

PARAMARIBO, Suriname: Experts here say they have discovered irregularities in the calculations of the equidistance line by a UN Arbitration Tribunal which established the maritime boundary between Suriname and Guyana on September 17, after a long-standing dispute between the two countries.

The ad hoc ‘Platform to study the ITLOS award’ presented its findings Monday to President Ronald Venetiaan, offering the Suriname government tools to officially query the decision before the term of 30 days to do so expires.

Counting from Wednesday, Suriname and Guyana have only 6 days left to make reservations and seek clarification from the UN Tribunal on any uncertainty in the ruling.

Paul Reichler of Guyana’s legal team earlier noted that Guyana has no reason whatsoever to question the tribunal’s award.

Equidistance line 1


At a press meeting, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and coordinator of the platform Harvey Naarendorp stressed that pursuant to the articles 35-37 of the UNCITRAL arbitration rules of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, correction on technical errors in the award are possible.

He therefore questioned the motives of the Venetiaan administration to accept the award unconditionally.

According to Naarendorp, the award is not fair and equitable, since Guyana has been awarded 65 percent of the 31,600 square kilometers wide former area of dispute while Suriname received the remaining 35 percent.

Kenneth Vasseur, a member of the platform, argued that, since the UN panel has applied equidistance as the only principle to determine the maritime boundary, a greater accuracy was essential. Especially in a case where potential natural resources were at stake, although none of the parties in the oral pleadings before the Tribunal has argued the relative distribution of living and non-living natural resources throughout the former disputed area.

Vasseur further noted that, according to the map in the Tribunal’s award, the UN panel has employed only 17 equidistance points in establishing the maritime boundary. Far too few in such an important ruling the energy engineer concluded.

The Surinamese experts, in recalculating the equidistance line, more then doubled that number using 45 points for their computations. As a result a new line emerged situated west of the boundary determined by the UN Arbitration panel.

If this line is accepted said Naarendorp, the award will be more equitable and fair, since the area will be partitioned 49 percent for Guyana and 51 percent for Suriname.

Equidistance line 2


Meanwhile the Suriname government has not decided yet whether, on basis of the new information it received from the platform, it will seek clarifications or an explanation from the UN Arbitrage Tribunal.

The National Assembly is holding an emergency session over this issue Thursday after a formal request from the NDP.

Since the ruling, which was made public on September 20, opposition groups here have been lashing the government for mishandling the maritime border dispute with Guyana.

On Monday October 1, several hundred protesters led by opposition leader Desi Bouterse held a protest demonstration calling on the government to resign.

No comments: