Thursday, July 22, 2004

TT: Fishy oil dispute reaches the Hague

THE BATTLE for maritime space between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados has officially reached the court. The dispute has been lodged at the spacious and large castle housing the Permanent Court of Arbitration situated in The Hague in The Netherlands. Months after indicating its intention, Barbados went ahead and filed proceedings in The Netherlands — a matter which will cost both Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados millions of dollars in legal fees. Barbados stated its intention months ago to take Trinidad and Tobago to the international court after the arrest of two Bajan fishermen off Tobago waters and a dispute over the maritime boundary between the two countries. The arbitral tribunal in The Netherlands will consist of Judge Stephen Schwebel, president, Ian Brownlie QC, Prof Vaughan Lowe, Prof Francisco Orrego Vicuna, and Sir Arthur Watts QC.

The agent for Barbados is its Attorney General Mia Mottley, with Robert Volterra as the co-agent. Attorney General John Jeremie is TT’s agent, with English solicitor John Almeida as the co-agent. Brownlie is Trinidad and Tobago’s nominee on the arbitral tribunal. Prof Lowe, Chichele Professor of International Law at Oxford University, was chosen as Barbados’ nominee for the tribunal. Although the tribunal members have been chosen to hear the matter, no date has yet been set for arguments. ...[T]he hearing may not take place until October. Jeremie was unavailable as he was reported to be out of the country. Last November, Barbados’ Prime Minister Owen Arthur, speaking in Bridgetown, spoke of the fishing dispute. He said that until this matter was resolved, Barbados will  not consider deepening political ties with Trinidad and Tobago.
The battle is not about maritime space, it's about the rights to the minerals under the ocean and Barbados's strange belief that what belongs to TT is Barbados's.

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