The Bill to establish the Ghana Boundary Commission presented to Parliament last week, after a boundary dispute broke out between Ghana and the La Cote D’Ivoire, has moved a step closer to its passage into an Act, as it received its second reading behind closed doors in Parliament yesterday.
The Bill, when passed into an Act, would empower the Commission to negotiate Ghana’s boundaries with her neighbours.
The Commission would, among things, be mandated to undertake negotiations to determine and demarcate the country’s land boundaries, and delimit her maritime boundaries. It would also ensure the proper development, and consistent application of the country’s policies regarding maritime boundary delimitation.
The Committee on Lands and Forestry, chaired by Mr Gershon K. B. Gbediame, in a documented report on the Bill, observed that there was no Commission to deal with issues relating to maritime boundary demarcations.
It also observed that there was a provision under the United Nations Convention on law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for countries to delimit their maritime boundaries, as well as the establishment of the Ghana Boundary Commission, to forestall possible conflicts between the country and her neighbouring countries.
The 1982 UNCLOS is an international agreement dealing with all traditional aspects of ocean governance and uses. It was signed on December 10, 1982, after 14 years of negotiations, to which more than 150 countries, representing all regions of the world, participated. The Convention entered into force on November 16, 1994.
The Committee however, noted that there was an urgent need for the country to establish a Boundary Commission to delimit its maritime boundary. This, according to the Committee, would enable resources, especially, the oil, from which the country stands to benefit immensely.
Further, the Commission noted that delimitation was a requirement by the United Nations for continental shelf extension. In cognizance of the importance of the Bill to the country, the Committee, however, requested the House (Parliament) to pass the Bill into an Act.
The Bill (Ghana Boundary Commission Bill, 2010) was presented to Parliament and read for the first time on Wednesday, 3 March, 2010.
In accordance with Article 106(4) of the Constitution, and Order 177 of the Standing Orders of the House (Parliament), the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo, referred the Bill to the Committee on Lands and Forestry for deliberation and report.
Ghana’s quest to negotiate its boundaries with her neighbours has been in a slow process until recently, when the government of La Cote D’Ivoire petitioned the United Nations to ensure the demarcation of the maritime boundary between the two countries, after the former had discovered huge oil deposits in the Gyata oil field.
Source: The Chronicle/Ghana
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