Vanuatu, Solomon Islands To Sign Landmark Maritime Border Treaty

Treaty comes after 33 years of negotiations

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 5, 2016) – The Vanuatu Government will sign a landmark Maritime Boundary Treaty with the Government of the Solomon Islands, demarcating a mutual boundary line in the North of Vanuatu and South of the Solomon Islands, bordering the Torba and Temotu Provinces of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands respectively on Friday.

The signing of the treaty with Solomon Islands after 33 years of negotiations, is a significant milestone and achievement since Vanuatu’s political independence in 1980, contributing also to enhancing Vanuatu’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; and an important step as Vanuatu also looks to settle outstanding maritime boundary issues, with New Caledonia in the South and Fiji in the East.

The treaty is made in accordance with the rules and principles of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in particular, Articles 74 and 83 which provide that the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf between States with opposite or adjacent coasts shall be effected by agreement on the basis of international law in order to achieve an equitable solution.

As parties to UNCLOS, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands therefore have a shared duty and obligation to resolve outstanding maritime issues, moreover given that they share a common maritime border.

The signing ceremony will be preceded by the inaugural TORBA-TEMOTU culture and arts festival which will be hosted in Motalava on Thursday 06 October, to signify the close cultural linkages and familiarity between the two provinces and their people.

Whilst the ceremony will be held at Nerunumen in Motalava in the Banks, there will also be a trip to Vetande Island where traditional leaders will perform a kastom ceremony to declare the island a “cultural marine park”.

The signing ceremony will be officiated by the Prime Minister Charlot Salwai on behalf of Vanuatu and by the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare on behalf of the Government of Solomon Islands; and who will both be accompanied by State Ministers, Senior Officials and Traditional Leaders from Vanuatu’s TORBA Province and TEMOTU Province of the Solomon Islands.

Head of State,President Lonsdale Baldwin will also be in attendance of the ceremony and related festivities.

Whilst early negotiations date back to 1983, with the late Fr. Walter Hyde Lini chairing Vanuatu’s inaugural National Committee on Maritime Boundaries Delimitation, a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands in 2010 further paved the way for negotiations to be revived and concluded in the spirit of Melanesian collegiality and brotherhood.

In 2013, Leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group urged members with outstanding maritime boundary issues to resolve and for a review by MSG Leaders in 2018.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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