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UN tribunal rules for Bangladesh in maritime border dispute with India

[JURIST] The Permanent Court of Arbitration [official website] in The Hague issued a ruling [court documents] Tuesday awarding Bangladesh more than 9,700 square miles in the Bay of Bengal, ending a maritime dispute with India that has spanned more than three decades. Bangladesh initiated the arbitral proceedings against India, pursuant to article 287 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [text, PDF] in 2009. The legal dispute originated from the partition of British India into the two states of India and Pakistan in 1947. The tribunal ruled 4-1 that the maritime boundary between Bangladesh and India "is a series of geodetic lines joining" three "Delimitation Points." In a detailed 171-page decision, the court evaluated a combination of modern scientific survey information and historical records of the region including maps and agreements made by the British in the 1940s. The award, which is binding, establishes the course of the maritime boundary line between Bangladesh and India regarding each nation's territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and the continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles. The verdict is expected to open the way [Al Jazeera report] for new oil and gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal.

Competition for fishing grounds and oil/gas exploration has led to number of high profile international disputes around the world. In April Bolivian President Evo Morales [BBC profile] filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] laying claim to a 240-mile area in Chile that provides access to the Pacific Ocean. In January the ICJ established a new maritime boundary [JURIST report] between Peru and Chile. In 2012 the ICJ ended a long-running territorial and maritime dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua by ruling [JURIST report] that Colombia has sovereignty over a group of small islands in the western Caribbean, while Nicaragua has control over a large amount of the surrounding sea and seabed.

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