Sunday 21st Jul 2024
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Maldives' Major Parties Join Forces to Condemn Government's Handling of EEZ Dispute

A joint press conference was held today by major political parties in the Maldives, addressing the recent loss of a significant portion of the Maldivian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to Mauritius following an International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) decision. The conference was led by two former Attorney Generals of the Maldives, Dr. Mohammed Munawwar and Azima Shukoor. Dr. Munawwar is an expert in the law of the seas. Representatives from the main opposition party Progressive Party of Maldives, Jumhoory Party, Maldives National Party, and Maldives Reform Movement also attended the press conference.
Dr. Munawwar highlighted the repercussions of the ITLOS ruling on the Maldives' case at the UN regarding the continental shelf. As per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, each country has the right to claim up to 350 nautical miles of continental shelf. In 2010, the Maldives requested an additional 150 nautical miles of continental shelf, in addition to the existing 200 nautical miles. However, due to the loss of a significant part of the EEZ in the ITLOS ruling, the Maldives can no longer claim the continental shelf outside the EEZ.
Azima Shukoor criticized the Maldivian legal team's representation at ITLOS, stating that they violated local laws of the sea by not discussing the relevant circumstances that could have granted the Maldives a larger share of the EEZ. She pointed out that the legal team did not mention that Chagos is an uninhabited archipelago, Maldivians rely on fishing, and Mauritius does not fish themselves but sells fishing licenses to distant fishing nations. Additionally, she noted that the Maldivian Law of the Sea states the EEZ extends up to 200 nautical miles from all sides, which the legal team ignored at ITLOS.
MP Ahmed Shiyam, the Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives, vowed to hold accountable those responsible for this outcome, calling it high treason and alleging that some individuals in the government benefited from the situation. He emphasized the massive loss to Maldivian fishermen and the overall economy due to the ITLOS ruling.
The ITLOS ruling has led to the Maldives losing 45,331 square kilometers of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to Mauritius. This significant loss not only affects the nation's sovereignty but also has considerable consequences for the Maldivian fishing industry, which heavily relies on access to these waters for their livelihood. As a country that depends on fishing as a primary source of income and sustenance, this decision puts immense pressure on Maldivian fishermen and the overall economy, potentially reducing the nation's available fishing grounds and limiting access to valuable resources within the affected area.