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Dispute Between Equatorial Guinea, Gabon

Former UN Legal Chief to Mediate Dispute Between Equatorial Guinea, Gabon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today that he has appointed the recently departed legal chief of the United Nations as his Special Adviser and Mediator to assist in resolving the continuing maritime border dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

The two countries have been informed that Nicolas Michel – who served as UN Legal Counsel from August 2005 until the start of this month – will be the Special Adviser, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.

Mr. Michel had already been dealing with the border dispute as part of his duties as UN Legal Counsel, and Ms. Okabe said he would bring a reputation for impartiality and a commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as his diplomatic and legal skills, to the new post.

In July, after two days of meetings at the UN Office at Geneva UNOG, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon issued a joint statement saying they had made substantial progress towards referring the maritime border dispute to the International Court of Justice ICJ, the main judicial organ of the UN.

Representatives of the neighbouring African nations said they had worked on key documents for a planned joint submission to the ICJ, which would then adjudicate on the boundary.

The dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, which emerged in 2003, centres on an island which has oil resources. The two States, which have agreed to exploit the area jointly until the dispute is resolved, plan to meet again in New York in September to finalize the documents being submitted to the ICJ.


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