Cooperation / Oyster Pond: the border should be demarcated this year

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“Pending the finalization of the territorial negotiations between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands which will be held at the end of 2018, the parties note the interest of the rapid development of an approved framework, applicable in a spirit of courtesy. reciprocal, to the management of any space over which there is a dispute of sovereignty. This is an excerpt from the “joint declaration” signed on June 28, 2018 by the official representatives at the time of France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Collectivity of Saint-Martin and the government of Sint Maarten. 

While most of the statement focused on strengthening cooperation between the two parts of the island in various fields, a paragraph at the end of the document alluded to the border issue at Oyster Pond.

Four and a half years later, the situation has not changed: the parties must always show courtesy and territorial negotiations have not taken place. We still do not know where the border passes.

However, the prefect of Saint-Martin recently announced that the negotiations between France and the Netherlands had resumed at the end of last year and that they were going well... He specified that they related to the delimitation of the border and not on the demarcation (consolidation of the delimitation) which will be the next step. The representative of the State refused to deliver the details of the exchanges between the countries. “The dynamics are on the right track,” he simply commented.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of ​​1982, known as the Montego Bay Convention, the border in a bay shared between two States must pass in the middle: the points of its course must be "equidistant from the points closest to the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of ​​each of the two States is measured”.

But it remains to know where are the points of origin, constituted by the base line. In October 2017, France responded to this by publishing a decree in which it indicates the geographical coordinates of the baselines from which the territorial sea adjacent to the islands of the French West Indies, including Saint-Martin, is measured (points 1 and 2 on the card for Oyster Pond*).

Current discussions between the parties relate to these points from which a route will be suggested; a project should be validated by the end of the year, confided the prefect. The cartographic representation of delimitation is carried out by the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy (SHOM). Then, once the maritime spaces of France and the Netherlands in this zone at Oyster Pond have been delimited, they will have to  the subject of an advertisement to the General Secretariat of the United Nations.

* Babit Point: 18-03-14 N / 063-00-37 W. Low water mark (including permanent port facilities). Point on the low-water line of the Etang aux Huîtres where the areas of sovereignty of France and the Netherlands separate: 18-03-22 N / 063-01-09 W.  

(soualigapost.com)

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