Maritime Boundary: A Great Victory for Bangladesh | Essay Writing

Maritime Boundary: A Great Victory for Bangladesh

সমুদ্রসীমা : বাংলাদেশের বিশাল জয়

Maritime Boundary Bangladesh V for Victory
Maritime Boundary Bangladesh V for Victory

Maritime Boundary: A Great Victory for Bangladesh

Introduction:

The landmark verdict at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg established the legal territorial rights of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. The court sustained Bangladesh’s claim to settle maritime boundaries with India and Myanmar. This maritime settlement has blessed Bangladesh with the expansion of territorial area and exclusive economic zone in our sea. The territorial area comprises more than 1,18813 sq. km. of water including 200 nautical miles with the sovereign right.

ITLOS & PCA Delimitation Lines with Bangladesh India Coastlines
ITLOS & PCA Delimitation Lines with Bangladesh India Coastlines

 

Maritime Boundary of Bangladesh:

Bangladesh with its population of about 152 million in a land territory of 1,47,570 sq. km needs to explore and exploit the living and non-living resources adjacent to the sea. The full extent of marine resources is yet unknown to us. Some experts consider that mineral deposits are greater in the sea than that inland. The ocean is without doubt the most important resource on the planet.

Maritime states can boast of their fortune having economic, political, strategic and social advantages over other states in reaping benefit from those resources while their interests are manifested in a variety of activities including shipping of goods, fishing. naval mission and scientific research. Bangladesh is too bestowed with the same geographic endowment with 711 kilometres of coastline.

ITLOS & PCA Award on Bangladesh Oil & Gas Blocks
ITLOS & PCA Award on Bangladesh Oil & Gas Blocks

 

Background and Lodged (যথাতথ কতৃপক্ষকে জানানো ) Cases:

Records show that, only three years after the country’s liberation, the first step was taken by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who enacted the Territorial Water and Maritime Zones Act 1974, the first to enact in the region. He initiated a dialogue with Myanmar and India to fix the maritime boundary issues…

As a result, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in 1974, in which Myanmar accepted Bangladesh’s claim for 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone. However, Myanmar later changed its stance.

It may be mentioned that the caretaker regime invited bids for offshore exploration in February 2008 after dividing its sea territory in the Bay into 28 blocks.

But both India and Myanmar raised objections in almost all the blocks bordering their maritime boundaries that prevented Bangladesh from exploring for oil gas. Myanmar even claimed rights to part of an area of Bangladesh. At the peak of the dispute in 2008, a war-like situation developed when both countries sent their Navy to the disputed area.

In this situation, in 2009 Bangladesh lodged cases against India and Myanmar in two separate UN courts on 8 October 2009. Bangladesh was forced to file the cases after the two neighbours unfairly cut off a significant portion of Bangladesh’s maritime area in the Bay.

The Maritime Award:

Recently Bangladesh has received one of the best news in many decades. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) located in Hamburg. Germany, gave its judgement on the dispute with Myanmar on the delimitation of our maritime boundary. It awarded us what we bargained for and more. It was indeed a great victory for Bangladesh.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on 14 March 2012 sustained Bangladesh’s claims to a full 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal and to a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 miles.

Bangladesh demanded 1,07,000 sq. km in the Bay of Bengal, but the ITLOS verdict awarded the country with 1,11,631 sq. km. The Tribunal also awarded Bangladesh a full 12-mile territorial sea around St. Martin’s Island, overruling Myanmar’s argument that it should be cut in half. The 151-page judgement was passed with 21 judges voting in favour with only one judge differing. The decision given is now final and there is no appeal.

Bathymetry of the Bay of Bengal (Smith & Sandwell 1997) with Demarcation Lines
Bathymetry of the Bay of Bengal (Smith & Sandwell 1997) with Demarcation Lines

 

Based on Judgement:

Bangladesh favours a principle based on ‘equity’ while India and Myanmar favour an ‘equidistance () system to get a larger maritime area. Under the UN Charter, the principle of ‘equity’ takes into account a country’s population, economic status and needs, GDP growth and other issues, while the ‘equidistance’ system marks the boundary through geometric calculations.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, any such dispute should be resolved on the basis of equity and in the light of relevant circumstances. This makes Bangladesh’s demand for equity-based demarcation justified.

Judgement Importances:

Judgement is important in a number of respects. First, it is the first dispute concerning maritime boundary delimitation decided by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. It, therefore, gives an indication of the approach to the Tribunal to maritime boundary delimitation compared to other international courts and tribunals. Second, it is the first judgement of an international court or tribunal which directly addresses the delimitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.

The tribunal, therefore, had to deal with some novel legal issues in its judgement. The judgement will also be an important point of reference in the ongoing dispute between Bangladesh and India concerning their maritime boundaries on the other side of the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh sea boundary
Bangladesh sea boundary

 

Scope widened:

Bangladesh’s winning its maritime boundary claimed over Myanmar and India implies that the country will now have a larger deep-sea oil and gas exploration area in the eastern Bay of Bengal.

ITLOS verdict and Maritime Security:

Maritime Security means ensuring full control over our sea area and the activities carried out there. The navy is considered the leading maritime force in a country. Almost all the countries of the world maintain a navy for these purposes and Bangladesh is no exception.

Bangladesh Navy must be able to co-ordinate with maritime forces, which include coast guards and other government agencies charged with sovereignty, security, law enforcement and constabulary functions at the sea. Economically and strategically Bangladesh remains a maritime nation, mostly dependent on what happens at and from the sea.

The maritime domain is the most promising way for Bangladesh to pursue its national interests of the well-being of the nation. Given the current global and regional security environment, comprehensive maritime security is required. It includes Bangladesh ports, shipping, fishing. off-shore oil and gas facilities and shipping lines in Bangladesh waters. The government has already taken some steps to strengthen the navy and will do whatever is necessary to protect the country’s maritime territory.

Essay Writing - Maritime Boundary: A Great Victory for Bangladesh
Essay Writing – Maritime Boundary: A Great Victory for Bangladesh

Conclusion:

The victory of Maritime Boundary has expanded our dimension, widened our sky. We have got an enlarged map with so many resources. Now it’s time to preserve and utilize this added area sustainably. If we can do so. our economy will be more healthy by this significant attainment.

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