UN-backed tribunal hears Sudanís Abyei caseThijs Bouwknegt
Posted by sarkout on May 31 2009 18:10:08
UN-backed tribunal hears Sudanís Abyei caseThijs Bouwknegt

The demarcation of the oil-rich Abyei is under review before a UN-supported international court in The Hague. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has begun hearings to mediate a settlement over a disputed town straddling northern and southern Sudan.

Five arbitrators from the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague have started deliberations over the demarcation of the disputed Abyei region this weekend.

Boundary markings in the area of Abyei, which lies in an oil-rich area, remain contentious since the 2005 peace agreement ending Sudan's second civil war between North and South Sudan. The court will ultimately define and determine the boundaries.

The status of Abyei, which is considered to be the historical bridge between northern and Southern Sudan, was one of the most controversial issues in the 2005 peace agreement between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government in Khartoum, ending decades of war.

Under the agreement South Sudan was granted provisional autonomy and Abyei's residents will decide along with rest of the south whether to secede from the north or not in an independence referendum in 2011.

The deal further states that the semi-autonomous southern government should get 50 percent of oil revenues from all fields in the south. The two sides, however, have not agreed an administration and borders or shared oil revenues from Abyei, which contains one of Sudan's two largest oil fields.

The borders of Abyei were initially determined by special commission, but its results were opposed by Khartoum, claiming that the commission exceeded their terms of reference by basing their findings on the 1956 border, rather than the 1905 border.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed in his latest report to the Security Council on Sudan in October 2008 that "demarcation of the border is a critical benchmark with implications for almost all other benchmarks under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement."

More than 2 million people died in the north-south conflict, which should not be confused with the enduring Ďgenocidal' violence in the western Darfur region. The conflict and the human rights violations in Darfur are subject to investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC), also in The Hague.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration is an intergovernmental organisation with over one hundred member states. It was established in 1899 during the first Hague Peace Conference and is housed in the Peace Palace that was built specially for this court in 1913.

The court deals with disputes over territorial and maritime boundaries, sovereignty, human rights and matters concerning international and regional trade. Court proceedings have a rather closed nature since hearings are rarely open to the public and sometimes decisions itself are kept confidential.

The PCA should not be confused with the principal UN court the International Court of Justice, which is also housed in the Peace Palace in The Hague
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