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The recent detention of the Guyana-registered MV Lady Chandra I by Surinamese authorities while it was plying the Corentyne River has elicited statements from officials of the Government of Guyana and other comments in the media, some informed, others ill-informed, the latter sometimes charged with ample doses of emotion.The Corentyne River is obviously a border river,Wholesale Jerseys Authentic, as it serves as a physical divide between Guyana and Suriname. In general, the better view in relation to jurisdiction over navigable border rivers, and supported by customary international law, is that the river is divided by a median line drawn along the thalweg or mid-channel of the river. It should be noted that the thalweg is subject to the vicissitudes of nature — river flow, currents, erosion – and can actually shift over time.While, therefore, the use of the median line so drawn brings a degree of assuredness to the two states that are separated by the river (the riparian states), as to the physical extent to which they ought to be able to exercise sovereignty and jurisdiction, especially for the purposes of interdiction activities in the waterway, it is somewhat imprecise,Cheap MLB Jerseys Authentic, over the passage of time, as an actual measure of the outermost reaches of such jurisdiction.Even in a normal, real-time situation, the practical aspects of the authorities of two neighbouring states facing off somewhere in the middle of a body of water to determine where the median line is “drawn”, in circumstances where one of the states has shown a lack of restraint in its resort to non-peaceful methods of exercising its authority, is not viable for the long term peace and security of the respective citizenry.It is also the case, notwithstanding the attractiveness of the equitable characteristics of the median line principle, that there have been exceptions to this principle in the past, insofar as it is applied to border rivers.Thus scholars of international law say that it is possible for the boundary line to be the border line of the river, so that the entire waterway belongs to one state alone. Such a situation would have evolved based on the practice and conduct of the two riparian states; very often, this exception occurs in circumstances where a state has occupied the territory on one side of the river during a period prior to the occupation of the territory on the other side of the river by some other state – and this is precisely the situation regarding the land which forms the eastern and western banks of the Corentyne river.There is documentation to support the contention that, in 1939, there was in fact a draft treaty between the British and the Dutch which departed from the median line principle and instead adopted a different approach in the Corentyne border river — such as had been used exceptionally in other parts of the world – to cede sovereignty and control over the whole waterway to the Dutch.Such cession of sovereignty to one state would have been based on the clear understanding always that the citizenry on the western bank of the river would have undisputed and unfettered right of user thereof – to navigate, to fish, to carry on economic activity, to live and have access to their commercial properties and dwellings on the west bank.It is therefore ingenious now to refer to ‘equal rights of user’ in circumstances where Suriname’s sovereignty over the Corentyne River has been acknowledged for decades through acceptance by Guyana of licensing and other administrative arrangements, and without protest.If state A has sovereignty and jurisdiction over a border river, state B may have rights of user, but not “equal” rights of user, as state A would be using the river as the “owner” of the river, in contrast to state B.The analogy of a “bottom house” may be helpful: if a landlord lives in the front house and rents the back house in the same yard, it follows that the tenant cannot enjoy use (access, quiet enjoyment of the premises) of the back house unless the landlord, that is the owner, allows the tenant to “use” the bottom house to get to the latter’s place of abode.But the landlord remains at all times the owner of the property, including the bottom house, and so the tenant in the back house uses the bottom house under very different conditions as compared to the landlord; but use the bottom house the tenant must, and the landlord cannot unilaterally suspend such use by the tenant, or unreasonably restrict or impose conditions on same.Equally so, the tenant is obliged to use the bottom house as an access way in a responsible manner,Wholesale Jerseys, for example, by keeping it clean and avoiding disturbances or damage to the landlord’s property.There is now additional relevant information in the public domain, with the recent publication of Sir Shridath Ramphal’s book ‘Triumph for UNCLOS’. It should be stated at the outset that the decision of the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal only addressed the maritime boundary in the sea between Guyana and Suriname, and not the land boundary. Nevertheless, the history related to the maritime boundary is inextricably linked to that of the land divide, and the Arbitral Tribunal stated that ‘…in 1936 the Mixed Boundary Commission made its recommendation that the northern end of the border between British Guiana and Suriname should be fixed at a specific point on the west bank of the Corentyne River, near to the mouth of the river, a point then referred to as “oint 61” or the “1936 Point”… “In 1936, the British and Dutch members of the Mixed Boundary Commission also concluded that the Maritime Boundary in the territorial sea should be fixed at an azimuth on N10 degrees from Point 61 (the 10 degree line) to the limit of the territorial sea’ (emphasis added). It cannot therefore lie in the mouth of the Guyanese authorities to contend that the Arbitral award is valid, insofar as it is based on a maritime boundary which starts at a point on the west bank of the Corentyne (the actual extent of the land border southward is a separate issue) and at the same time deny Suriname’s claim to the sovereignty over that river.Such “doublespeak” we have in the past become more accustomed to hear from our neighbour to the east: witness Suriname’s aggressive behaviour in the CGX dispute, and its principled, peaceable outcome at the instance of Guyana.Given the practical dilemma cited earlier of constructing a line in a moving waterway to delimit a border and the fact that the thalweg is subject to shifts of nature, it makes eminent sense for Guyana to hold to this position in the 1939 draft treaty and allow Suriname full control/ownership of the Corentyne river, always with the clear understanding that Guyana would have unfettered rights of user.In the infrequent cases of a crime being committed on a boat or a maritime accident occurring in midstream,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, the headache would be for the Suriname authorities; this would of course have to be buttressed by a well-negotiated, clearly-agreed cross-border cooperation agreement between the authorities, to allow the Guyanese security forces the right of hot pursuit and for collaboration in midstream interdiction activities where the activity concerns a crime committed on Guyanese territory.Equally so, matters such as granting of licenses would apply automatically to Guyanese users,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, while environmental and security restrictions/conditionalities would only be imposed by common agreement/consultations among the two states.Hence the promulgation of a regulation by Suriname since 1981, without consultation and/or prior notification, and its subsequent unilateral, unannounced imposition in 2008, more than a quarter of a century after, the effect of which is to restrict Guyana’s rights of user, are not the kinds of state practice upon which comity and good neighbourly relations are built.Guyana and Suriname must immediately return to the negotiating table to settle these issues, regardless of the silliness about whose turn it is to issue an invitation for bilateral talks.The merit of allowing Suriname sovereignty over the Corentyne River lies in the contention that that position, as reflected in the British 1939 draft treaty, was matched in parallel by the understanding that Suriname would relinquish its claim to the New River triangle, the subject of another historical quirk in the construction of the Guyana-Suriname border line.This separate issue relates to the land territory, where delimitation, while no doubt contentious, ought to be achieved with relatively more precision than in a waterway. Thus in one fell swoop, by resurrecting the negotiations and state practice that surround the 1939 British draft treaty,Cheap Jerseys Wholesale, Guyana and Suriname could address the issue of sovereignty over the Corentyne River and the separate but not unrelated issue of the New River Triangle.

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