Dispute in Bay of Bengal
I wrote previous articles (The Maritime Boundary and India-Bangladesh Maritime dispute in Bay of Bengal) on maritime boundary between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. I also emphasized on getting the dispute in to the International Court of Justice. At last, a step towards the right direction has been taken by the Bangladesh Govt. Instead of waiting and tolerating the status quo, they’ve started rolling the balls. They sent legal notice to India and Myanmar to take them to court.
I would be eagerly following the developments around this case. India and Myanmar argued on equidistant principle to resolve the dispute. Bangladesh pointed to equity and wanted to bend the equidistant line due to concave nature of their coastline. There are previous instances of court cases in favour of both arguments.
The outcome, whatever it is, won’t be a zero sum solution. It could go either way, i.e. Bangladesh may or may not get the desired maritime area. I could think of various different possibilities. Bangladesh may win it against Myanmar, but may not against India if population is considered a major factor in delimitation of maritime boundary. The equidistant line could be bent, but not as much as Bangladesh wants – could be another possible solution. Or, the best result for Bangladesh would be to get what they want.
Interestingly, in either of these cases, it may seem that someone “will lose” at least something. Looking closer, currently none exploits the resources of this disputed zone. So, none will at least materially lose anything. But, politically, if the game is played, it would always have a great impact on politics of Bangladesh and Myanmar – may be to some extent in West Bengal too. The outcome would be published in around 2014-2015, when a new Govt in Bangladesh would be in power. If it goes against Bangladesh, it could create political turmoil. In Myanmar, a potential crack between the Junta and the Chinese could arise out of this if China doesn’t see Myanmar through this case.
Whatever the outcome be, I want the proxy wars in Bay of Bengal to stop and everyone should respect the verdict of the court. I am still hopeful that court arbitration would prove to be a better tool for dispute resolution, compared to small scale warfare.
More Articles to Read : Foreign Policy, Diplomacy and National Consensus
Reaction of India : India hopes arbitration would help solve maritime disputes
Reaction of Myanmar : Yangon unhappy over Dhaka’s bid for UN arbitration