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‘BD prevails in maritime belt dispute with India’

By Special Correspondent
11th-Jul-2014       
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When leaders of the ruling Awami League (AL) and main opposition BNP have been using the latest UN Maritime verdict and its implications to outmaneuver each other by intensifying their blame games, one of the major on line wire services of the USA-'BUSINESS WIRE' made its headline as "Bangladesh Prevails in Maritime Boundary Dispute with India."   
 "This is another great day for Bangladesh," the Washington based-'BUSINESS WIRE' has written in its July 8 lead dispatch.
The wire service wrote: "An international arbitral tribunal in The Hague today awarded Bangladesh the vast majority of waters in the Bay of Bengal that were also claimed by India."
By a vote of 4-1, the five-member tribunal agreed with Bangladesh that the "equidistance" method proposed by India for dividing the Parties' maritime zones were as inequitable to Bangladesh. Instead, it fixed the boundary based on equitable principles that largely mirrored Bangladesh's claims to the disputed waters.
The award of the tribunal, which cannot be appealed, is binding on both of sides. It brings to an end the arbitration that Bangladesh commenced under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2009 after several decades of unsuccessful diplomatic negotiations.
Bangladesh won a similar judgment in a companion case against Myanmar in 2012. The 2012 judgment was issued by the 21-member International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany. It too rejected "equidistance" boundaries (as proposed by Myanmar) and awarded Bangladesh a greater share of the disputed waters in another part of the Bay of Bengal.
Bangladesh's lead counsel in both the cases were Paul Reichler and Lawrence Martin of Foley Hoag LLP in Washington, DC.
In addition to Messrs. Reichler and Martin, Bangladesh's legal team included Professor James Crawford of Cambridge University, Professor Philippe Sands of the University College London, Professor Alan Boyle of the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Payam Akhavan of McGill University. Mr. Reichler praised the outcome, calling the arbitral tribunal's award "a thorough, well-reasoned decision." He added that "it continues the progressive development of maritime delimitation jurisprudence in a positive direction. Bangladesh was not the only winner today. With its careful and balanced decision, the arbitral tribunal brought great credit to itself and showed once again the wisdom of the drafters of UNCLOS in providing for compulsory dispute settlement." According to Mr. Reichler, "a long-standing problem in bilateral relations has now been resolved in a manner acceptable to both States."
The arbitral tribunal was presided by Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany, and included Judge Jean-Pierre Cot (France), Judge Thomas A. Mensah (Ghana), Professor Ivan Shearer (Australia) and Dr. Pemmaraju Sreenivasa Rao (India). Dr. Rao cast the sole dissenting vote.

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