By Stephen Kangal
February 19, 2020
It was a catastrophic national disgrace in 2003 when former Prime Minister Patrick Manning allowed former Bajan PM Owen Arthur to unilaterally haul T&T before an International Tribunal that adjudicated on and established our bilateral EEZ maritime boundary. In the process the Tribunal ignored compelling legal precedent and allocated almost half of our legitimate and previously claimed maritime space to the exclusive jurisdiction and expanded maritime patrimony of Barbados in perpetuity.
But it is a further tragedy that in 2020 some fourteen years later after this 2006 debacle that zone —locked and cut off our traditional continental shelf and high- seas access to the Atlantic forever, our current Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley proceeded to Bridgetown to add the final nail in our watery coffin. The Tribunal did not grant any high seas corridor to T&T into the Atlantic Ocean.
Having proclaimed at the Energy Conference that T&T would apply to the UN for its maritime borders to be extended to the cretaceous rocks underlying the Guyanese off-shores zones, that I consider to be a legal and physical impossibility given, inter alia, our zone-locked position, why will you want to give official recognition to the potential hydrocarbon-bearing blocks proclaimed by Barbados by prematurely concluding a T&T/Barbados Cross Border Unitisation Agreement?
Are the profiteering interests of oil companies superseding that of the people of T&T?
That Agreement imposes a caveat on and estops T&T from making any proposed east-ward maritime extensions beyond the current boundary handed down by the Tribunal in 2006.
That action is inconsistent conduct at the sub-regional level that makes us further a laughing stock to the conceited Bajans who will realise that we are not Law of the Sea savvy at all.
The late Lennox Ballah will be turning in his grave at this subjugation of T&T to Bajan diplomacy courtesy of our PM.
Secondly, why will you tell the Bajans that there is no geological break/barrier or discontinuity in our intervening seabed when Barbados has in fact no continental shelf in a geological sense that it can claim as its natural prolongation into the sea?
Thirdly why will you commit T&T to operationalising Joint Diplomatic Missions/ Plural Representation with Barbados when this is a failed and discredited unworkable model rejected by Caricom countries a long time ago? This is also diplomatically impossible because T&T and Barbados together do not constitute a sovereign state in international law that is conditional for such an arrangement to be possible.
Fourthly, T&T and Barbados are contenders for:
– off-shore oil and gas exploration companies and soon for oil markets,
– increasing tourism arrivals;
– a determination for either to become the transportation hub of the Eastern Caribbean,
– diplomatic Capital of the Caribbean and even in
– hosting and administering international CWC cricket tournaments that boost tourism arrivals and cricketing status much to the detriment of Queen’s Park Oval and the Brian Lara Stadium.
That is an unmitigated misfit thanks to a Prime Minister unleashed in Bridgetown.