It seems that the waters of the Gulf of Bengal have not been a peaceful place since the separation of Bangladesh from India (60 years ago) and its independence (40 years ago). One of the poorest countries could be the victim of its envious neighbors. Actually the Bangladesh authorities think that India and Myanmar (also known as Burma) exploit those waters and the subsoil of the Gulf.
The Gulf is a place where no maritime boundaries have been decided. Nevertheless, India and Myanmar did not hesitate in signing gas and oil exploitations contracts. This complex situation sometimes led to negative consequences.
In 2008 a South Korean exploration ship sailed through the Gulf under the protection of a Myanmar ship. A couple of week later the same protection was organized for an Indian ship.
Since 2008 the situation grew more complex. Concerning Burma, the junta sent military forces near the border land and the Burmese navy placed its ships close to a disputed area.
As a response, four Bangladeshi warships were sent in the disputed area. In the mean time, Bangladesh endorsed the leasing out of three exploitation blocks to Conoco Philips and Tullow Oil plc for offshore oil and gas exploration.
For Bangladesh, as we said one of the poorest countries of the world, the main task is to have gain an access to oil and gas in the gulf. Without maritime boundaries it is hard for exploration companies to determine who the sovereign State of a maritime space is.
It is not the first issue that arises concerning boundaries between India and Bangladesh. The land boundary between them is a wall of barbwires. Three reasons due to the regional geopolitical situation can explain that: the fight against illegal immigration, drugs traffics and the fight to prevent terrorist transits or freedom fighters moving.
Bangladesh will now go to a United Nations arbitration Court for the resolution of the dispute over its maritime boundaries with Myanmar and India. Each of them ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. According to this convention an arbitration court can be created in order to settle a dispute on Maritime boundaries (and other questions concerning the Law of the sea).
Bangladeshi authorities tried to negotiation method some years ago but they came to naught, thus opening the way to an arbitration procedure -the only thing this country can do. For this Bangladesh hired Foley Hoag, a US lawyer firm.
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