Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 17 Guyana v. Suriname (Award of the Arbitral Tribunal, 17 September 2007)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Continental shelf — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
The chapter starts by introducing some background to this case. Guyana and Suriname are located on the north-eastern coast of South America, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Their coastlines are adjacent, separated by the Corentyne River, the west bank of which forms the land boundary between the two countries =. Efforts to establish a border between the states pre-dated their independence. The chapter presents some analysis on the case, which was the second maritime delimitation arbitral proceeding under Part XV of UNCLOS. In its delimitation of the territorial sea boundary, the award confirms the ‘primacy’ of equidistance-based delimitation. The tribunal observed that Suriname could have invoked compulsory dispute resolution under Part XV of UNCLOS and sought provisional measures to put an end to Guyana’s drilling activities in the disputed area. The tribunal thereby provided guidance to any coastal state faced with unilateral drilling by a neighbour in a disputed area.