Burma:Verdict on Maritime Boundary by Year-End

Dhaka: The maritime boundary dispute between Burma and Bangladesh is likely to end this year as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) will deliver its verdict on the case by the end of this year.


Bangladesh authorities announced the news to Dhaka-based paper The Independent.

Additional Foreign Secretary Khurshed Alam said, “Bangladesh and Burma will complete filing their pleadings to ITLOS by July and oral hearings will be held in September or October.”

The Bangladesh government accepted the jurisdiction of ITLOS in December 2009 to settle the maritime boundary dispute with Burma.

“We expect the verdict by the end of this year,” Secretary Khurshed Alam said.

Meanwhile, Burmese authorities have been collecting the background history of the Bangladesh-owned island of St. Martin, called “Coconut Island” by the Burmese, that is located at the mouth of the Naff River.

A rural teacher from Alaythan Kyaw Village in southern Maungdaw Township said, “A group of Burmese officials came to our village most recently to ask the elder men in our village about the background history of Coconut Island. The officials are now gathering information about the island but I do not know the reason behind this.”

Many educated men in the area believe the collection of historical information about St. Martin Island is connected to the maritime boundary dispute with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is also preparing to resolve the maritime dispute with Burma by hiring lawyers led by the US-based firm Foley Hoag.

According to official sources, an ITLOS bench comprising 23 judges will deliver the verdict after hearing both sides.

The dispute arose because Bangladesh wanted to delimit the Bay of Bengal on an “equity” basis, while Burma wanted to delimit the waters on an “equi-distant” basis.

“The tribunal will decide the direction of delimitation lines on Talpatti point and St. Martin point,” Bangladesh Additional Foreign Secretary Khurshed Alam said.

Talpatti is the furthest southwest point and St. Martin is the furthest southeast. The coastline distance between Talpatti and St. Martin is 700 kilometers, and Bangladesh has claimed over 900 kilometers to the outer limit of the continental shelf in the Bay of Bengal.

The delimitation issue with Burma will be settled by ITLOS while the claim regarding the outer limit will be decided at the United Nations.

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