Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Banda rules out Malawi-Tanzania deal

Malawi President Joyce Banda has ruled out the possibility of an interim deal with Tanzania over their disputed border that runs through Lake Malawi. “ Malawi's position is that we own the entire lake, except for a portion ceded to Mozambique in 1954 for mutually beneficial reasons. The law clearly supports that position," said Banda on 14 July, suggesting also that the issue would be brought to the International Court of Justice if a resolution was not reached by September.
The announcement came in a press conference following talks with the former presidents of Mozambique and South Africa, Joachim Chissanoand Thabo Mbeki, who were on an official visit to Lilongwe to help mediate between both parties. Chissano, who now heads the Southern Africa Development Corporation (SADC) Forum of Former Heads of State and Government, which has been an active player in the five decade old dispute since the case was referred to it earlier this year, pledged his team would present Malawi's concerns to Tanzania and aim to reach an agreement within three months.
Malawi claims the majority of Lake Malawi, Africa's third-largest lake, according to a colonial-era document, the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty, while Tanzania insists that the lake should be shared equitably between them, based on the guidelines on maritime boundaries set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Tensions have risen after Malawi awarded a contract to Britain's Surestream Petroleum last year to prospect for oil in the Lake near the Tanzanian coast. The region is believed to be extremely rich in natural gas and oil.

Friday, 5 July 2013

ICJ files initial dates for Bolivia-Chile dispute

The ICJ this week fixed time-limits for the filing of initial pleadings in the case concerning 'Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean' between Bolivia and Chile. The Plurinational State of Bolivia, who initiated proceedings, must file a Memorial by 17 April 2014, and the Republic of Bolivia must follow this pleading by filing its Counter-Memorial by 18 February 2015. The filing of Memorials and Counter-Memorials is standard practise in the Hague, to outline the initial positions of both parties, however, no decision has been made by the court regarding what subsequent procedures may follow.
On 24 April Bolivia instituted proceedings in the ICJ against Chile to reclaim sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean: territory that it lost in the 19thcentury War of the Pacific. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has responded by rejecting talks, asking the ICJ to dismiss Bolivia's application, as he believes it threatens to open a “Pandora's Box” of international border disputes.
The 400km strip of coastal territory was annexed by Chile in the 1904 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, following the five-year conflict over mining rights. Hostilities between the neighbours have lingered since then, with repeated attempts to renegotiate the border failing. Bolivia, which still maintains a small navy and celebrates the Day of the Sea each year to honour its once substantial maritime territory, maintains that the 1904 Treaty is void, as it was signed under coercion from Chile. Authorities in Santiago however remain steadfast in opposing Bolivia's claim, with diplomatic ties not being re-established since they were broken off in 1978.